The Worst Person in the World
128 Mins(4 ½ out of 5)
Reviewed by: Sam Hollis
Modern day romance is anatomised without faux sentimentality in The Worst Person in the World, a dark rom-com that shows how a person can discover themselves by falling into each and every pitfall the dating game opens up. Renate Reinsve delivers one of the most impactful performances in recent memory, and Joachim Trier adds just enough directorial flourishes to make it all feel both tangible and cinematic.
Julie (Reinsve) is a promising medical student in Oslo, Norway who decides to drop it all to pursue psychology, then photography. She’s endlessly indecisive, which feeds into her love life. We watch on as she, over the course of several years, explores serious (and not so serious) relationships, struggles to find a fitting career path, and tries to forge an identity.
I am thrilled that The Worst Person in the World broke out of the International Feature category at the 94th Academy Awards and received a nomination for Original Screenplay. Trier and Eskil Vogt’s script conflates an entire youth’s worth of romance into two hours, mapping a finely tuned character arc that never feels crammed. It covers the realities of dating someone older who may be ready to settle down sooner than you, the envy that comes with having a partner who grows more successful than you, the temptation to cheat, and on and on. While I prefaced this as a rom-com, it almost feels too authentic for that label.
As its title implies, Julie, on paper at least, should not be remotely likable. This is a red herring, as she must be for the viewer to care about her journey; even if they do not agree with her decisions, they must understand them and root for her to figure it all out. Much of this falls on Reinsve’s shoulders, and she tackles it with all her might. Through heartbreak and trepidation, hunger and happiness, she makes Julie feel real, like an old friend we just haven’t caught up with in a while.
The Worst Person in the World will break your heart and feed it in one foul swoop.