Blu-ray Review: The Worst Person in the World [Criterion] | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, August 18th, 2022  

The Worst Person in the World

Studio: The Criterion Collection

Jun 27, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World – the final film in his critically acclaimed Norwegian Oslo Trilogy – is a deceptively simple, but profound look at relationships, self-discovery, and the cruelty of time.

The film is divided into 12 chapters (with a prologue and epilogue). It follows Julie (Renate Reinsve), a 30-year-old who has no clue what to do with her life. After dropping out of her university’s medical program and failing to find her niche in the school’s psychology program, Julie sets her sights on becoming a photographer. She picks up a temporary job at a bookstore, but her career goals are put on hold when she meets Askel (Anders Danielsen Lie), a controversial comic book artist. As their relationship progresses, the two settle into a monotonous rhythm.

One night, after leaving a pretentious event, Julie decides to crash a wedding party she walks by. There, she meets Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), an easy-going barista and a clear break from the routine she has gotten herself stuck in. The two build a dangerous connection, threatening Julie’s and Askel’s relationship and taking Julie on an intense, hilarious, and all-too-relatable journey of self-realization.

The brilliance of The Worst Person in the World mainly comes from the film’s Academy Award-nominated screenplay, co-written by Trier and his long-time collaborator Eskil Vogt. The two are deeply skilled at writing characters that feel tangibly human. They act “normally,” experience common frustrations, and talk about everyday things. As a result, viewers feel an instant bond with Julie, understanding that the questionable, morally flawed decisions she makes are not a result of villainy or malicious intent, but of simply being human. The screenplay also successfully distills heavy concepts. This is evident in scenes where characters talk about philosophy over dinner or about the unforgivable nature of death, into relatively simple dialogue, making the film approachable and grounded. There are so many ways that The Worst Person in the World could have felt too animated, especially given that it is a modern, millennial-centered melodrama. The screenplay’s simple-yet-effective dialogue allows the film to avoid this issue.

The screenplay is also successful because of its emotional and thematic beats. The film doesn’t shy away from exploring how cruel time truly is. This is constantly reinforced in the context of Julie’s journey–turning 30, realizing that she’s potentially wasted many years of her life in a relationship, and realizing that she hasn’t had any of the experiences that she had always desired. Even though the film is centered around Julie’s journey, Trier and Vogt also highlight this theme through the experiences of the supporting characters, especially as the film reaches its emotional and heart-wrenching finale. This decision is tactical, as it amplifies the fact that there are no true villains in the film and shows that time haunts everyone, regardless of age, health or profession.

The Worst Person in the World also benefits from a stellar lead ensemble. In the film’s leading role, Reinsve delivers not only the best performance of 2021 but one of the best performances in recent years. Her ability to capture her character’s complex emotions as she constantly fights battles, re-evaluates her decisions and experiences the joy and heartbreak of life, is dynamic, engaging and unbelievably impressive. Danielsen Lie’s performance is excellent as well, personifying the pompousness and sentimentality of his character in a perfect balance. In a smaller role, Nordrum does a fantastic job as the love interest, expertly syncing with Reinsve’s performance to believably confirm the two characters’ chemistry.

Although the film isn’t even a year old yet, The Criterion Collection’s physical release of the film does include a variety of new features. The release includes a 2K digital master of the film, as well as new interviews with Trier, Vogt, and the film’s main trio, among others. The release also includes select deleted scenes from the film. While the release isn’t as stacked with featurettes as some of Criterion’s other releases are, the fact that the film is finally available on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time in North America is exciting in itself.



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