This one has been on the list for a while but the other night I finally got around to watching The Worst Person In The World on Hulu. This Norwegian anti-romantic dramedy was one of the most well received films, foreign or domestic, of 2021, highlighted by a pair of Oscar nominations including Best International Feature Film and Best Original Screenplay. It’s hard to argue that this isn’t a well written and performed film though I don’t feel it quite lived up to the expectations I had for it.
The film centers around a young woman named Julie (Renate Reinsve) as she navigates her career ambitions, love interests, and family issues as she enters her thirties. Julie has what some may describe as a self-destructive nature, never quite settling down and pushing others away when obstacles arise. This film is told in 12 chapters, including an prologue and epilogue, and each section examines topics such as fidelity, whether or not to have children, and forbidden love just to name a few.
Perhaps it wasn’t fair that I was expecting something different. Every review and peer who recommended the film gushed over how funny this film was and how there weren’t many other films quite like it. While I found it certainly endearing at points, funny isn’t something I would use to describe it. The chapter structure isn’t anything particularly ground breaking and while there is some surrealism in the film that keeps the viewer on its toes I wouldn’t say it was anything I found especially memorable. I fully acknowledge that expectations vs. reality is an unfair critique, but it was hard for me to watch this and not say “that’s it?”
Critical as I may sound, there are two things about this I thoroughly enjoyed. Number one: Renate Reinsve. She is fucking incredible in this movie. She makes Julie so believable and relatable. It’s easy to see that portrayal and not immediately think of a friend or family member that have similar behavior. She shines in both the light-hearted and more dramatic moments of the film. I would even argue that her performance is better than any of the five women nominated for Best Actress last year, a historically weak class. The other aspect of the film I thought was superb was how the script nailed what it’s like to be entering your thirties. The realization that what we study and what we do can be two completely different things how imposter syndrome can weigh on someone. It presents a unique perspective on an all too relatable topic and it does so without going over the top on the “IT’S SO HARD TO BE YOUNG BUT ALSO OLD!” narrative.
At just over two hours it does drag on a bit and many of the laughs may be lost in translation but overall I found this to be a smart and relatable piece of filmmaking. I’m also fully aware I’m not in the target demographic for this film but I don’t feel that took anything away from my enjoyment of the film. I’ve talked about it on here before but I friggin love foreign films. Director Joachim Trier did a great job of taking a universal feeling and showing it in a deep yet easy to digest film.
The Worst Person in the World is currently streaming on Hulu.