The Worst Person in the World is cinema at its finest

The Worst Person in the World is probably the best movie in the world.

The Worst Person in the World is probably the best movie in the world.

When a movie wins numerous plaudits at the Cannes Film Festival, including Best Actress for its lead, you know it’s going to be good. The Worst Person in the World exceeds all of those expectations to be arguably the best movie released in the United States this year.

   The Norwegian film, directed by the acclaimed Joachim Trier,previously known for his 2017 movie Thelma and his Oslo trilogy, which this serves as the end of), runs through a prologue, 12 chapters, and an epilogue— an interesting but ultimately brilliant way of telling the story. It stars Renate Reinsve as Julie, a young woman dating comic book artist Askel Willman (Anders Danielsen Lie) after they met at a party. Julie and Aksel share a casual yet loving relationship, but it’s interrupted as Julie crashes a wedding party and meets Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), who she “cheats” on Willman with (they never explicitly kiss at the party, but engage in acts that could be seen as cheating). 

    This relationship leads to one of the best movie scenes I’ve ever seen, where Julie, at home with Aksel making coffee, turns a light on in their house. This freezes all of Oslo, and Julie runs through the streets of the city to Eivind, who works as a barista downtown; they then go on a date the rest of the day, walking through the city at a standstill, which ultimately leads to Julie breaking up with Aksel, as she feels like a spectator in their own relationship.

    I won’t reveal the rest of the movie, but it shifts tones real quick. For its first 90 minutes, The Worst Person in the World is an exuberant rom-com full of life and laughs (with the zenith of this being the seventh chapter, where Julie consumes magic mushrooms and trips out big time), which hurdles over all of the genre’s previous tropes thanks to the downright brilliant performance of Reinsve. Julie is a woman who, at 30, has no idea what she wants to do in life (having spent college flip flopping between being a surgeon, psychologist, and photographer), and it’s brilliantly portrayed here as she questions what to do while spending time with the men she loves. 

   But it wouldn’t be a critically acclaimed Nordic movie without some darkness, and when it’s ushered in, it’s done to perfection. The movie’s final three chapters and epilogue, which is an emotional gut punch (if you need an explanation of how, it made me cry at least five times, and that’s saying something as movies don’t make me cry) that explores loss, pregnancy, and love, directly contrasts its earlier parts to huge effect. 

   My one issue with the film is that it didn’t end the way I wanted it to (which, I’ll admit, is an incredibly subjective opinion). While watching, I had this preconceived notion that everything would turn out just fine; Julie and Eivind would start a happy family while Aksel would watch from afar. Instead, the ending subverts all expectations to continue its assault on your emotions, which I personally found a bit unambiguous but still wonderfully crafted and heartbreaking.

   The Worst Person in the World is brilliantly shot, has a potentially star-making turn from Reinsve, who takes control of the screen whenever she’s on it (as well as a fantastic supporting cast led by Danielsen Lie and Nordrum), and is written to perfection. It’s no surprise that the film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film at the 2022 Oscars and was named the best of 2021 by publications like Vanity Fair and The Atlantic.

   I’ve got to agree. The Worst Person in the World is one of the  best movies I’ve ever seen, and no doubt will be the best of 2022. It gets a full five out of five stars from me, and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone if you’re looking for a good laugh-cry movie.