The Worst Person in the World review – Nordic romcom is an instant classic (2024)

Joachim Trier is the Norwegian director who gave us the disturbing telekinesis thriller Thelma (2017) and the challenging drug-addiction drama Oslo, August 31st (2011). Working with his longtime screenwriter Eskil Vogt, he has discomfited his audiences, jolted them and shocked them into realising they aren’t here for an easy ride. So if you had told me that his new film would be a tender relationship comedy with a wonderful freshness, as well as touches of Nora Ephron and David Nicholls, and that it would have me covertly choking up, sneaking looks to left and right to make sure no one was seeing me sniffling … well I wouldn’t have believed you.

But that is what has happened. Trier has taken on one of the most difficult genres imaginable, the romantic drama, and combined it with another very tricky style – the coming-of-ager – to craft something gloriously sweet and beguiling. It’s a kind of non-Rake’s Progress, or innocent’s progress, in 13 chapters, embarked on by the twentysomething heroine, Julie.

Renate Reinsve is the actor who takes on this role and she takes off like a rocket, deserving star status to rival Lily James or Alicia Vikander for her tremendously mature, sensitive and sympathetic performance.

The Worst Person in the World review – Nordic romcom is an instant classic (1)

And where does the title come from? Surely it can’t apply to Julie herself; she admittedly dumps two men in the course of the film, cheating on and lying to the second, but we don’t for a moment think of her as anything other than vulnerable, flawed and human. Like anyone else in their 20s, she is terrified of the terrible irreversibility of life choices.

Maybe the title applies to her formidable second boyfriend, the brilliant but haughty comic-book artist called Aksel (played by the Trier regular Anders Danielsen Lie) who is renowned for an aggressively sexual graphic novel series in the R Crumb style, which will soon get him into trouble with a new generation of feminists.

Julie starts out hilariously unsure about what she wants to do with her life. She is initially a medical student but then, with wide-eyed certainty, tells her long-suffering mum she wants to change course to psychology – loftily declaring that she finds the mind more interesting than the body – and then decides she wants to go into photography. She begins a relationship with a gorgeous young guy that she, with magnificent unprofessionalism, starts snogging in the middle of a photo shoot and then leaves him at a party for the smoulderingly fascinating Aksel.

But as her 20s progress, she finds that Aksel is becoming more and more famous while she is still working in a bookshop, her photography now abandoned for vague ideas about Carrie Bradshaw-type journalism or confessional fiction. Things come to a crunch when she leaves Aksel’s latest launch party early and has an intense encounter with a guy called Eivind (Herbert Nordrum) who also works in a shop. Has she, apparently heartsinkingly, found her level in life?

There are two sensational set-pieces: one when she finally plucks up the courage to tell Aksel she is leaving him, and the whole world goes into freeze-frame while she runs through the Oslo streets to find Eivind and kiss him. The second comes when she takes shrooms with Eivind and his friends, an absolute showstopper of a drug-hallucination dream sequence in which Julie finally confronts her deadbeat estranged dad.

This film is sweet and gentle and funny, in ways that are undoubtedly conventional but also very real. It’s the kind of film we’ve all seen done so badly that it’s an unexpected treat to see it done well and to realise that its themes are very important: who do you fall in love with? Who is “the one”? When do you realise that you are just settling? Reinsve’s performance is just so good. A star is born.

The Worst Person in the World review – Nordic romcom is an instant classic (2024)


What is the point of The Worst Person in the World? ›

The film is ultimately about Julie's journey of learning that it's okay for her to take agency in her life and decide what she wants and doesn't want, provided she does the work to self-reflect on what that is.

What does the ending of The Worst Person in the World mean? ›

Yet in the end, The Worst Person in the World is about how you can never know if the roads not taken were the right ones. The simple truth is that you can't choose all the roads. And so you make peace with whatever path you've gotten yourself onto, as Julie ultimately does.

Who narrates The Worst Person in the World? ›

And the film's structure is literary, complete with an omniscient narrator, voiced by Ine Jansen (so omniscient that in one section she completely changes her point of view).

Is it worth watching The Worst Person in the World? ›

What to Know. The Worst Person in the World concludes Joachim Trier's Oslo Trilogy with a romantic comedy that delightfully subverts the genre's well-worn tropes. Funny and thought-provoking, The Worst Person in the World feels like watching real life -- and just like real life, it'll trigger a range of emotions.

What is the story of The Worst Person in the World summary? ›

Did Julie have a miscarriage in The Worst Person in the World? ›

While showering, she experiences a miscarriage. Some time later, Julie works as an on-set photographer at a film shoot. She photographs an actress and later sees the actress outside with Eivind and a baby. Returning home, she begins editing the day's photos.

What is the meaning of worst person? ›

: to the extreme degree of badness or inferiority. the worst dressed person.

How many chapters are in The Worst Person in the World? ›

Including prologue and epilogue, the film has 12 chapters. Julie, a 29-year-old millennial searching for a purpose, envisions a grand narrative for her life but she experiences it without anything like an objective perspective.

Who is the fewest actors in a narrative film? ›

  • This film is first-ever Indian and one of kind films in world cinema as it features only a single actor and hence has found an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records in the category Fewest actors in a narrative film. ...
  • Now more than 50 years the only movie of its type.

Who is the best narrator in movies? ›

This article will look at some of the best narrators in movie history and how the use of narration helped make the film so great.
  • Goodfellas – Ray Liotta.
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – Robert Downey Jr.
  • Clueless – Alicia Silverstone.
  • The Shawshank Redemption – Morgan Freeman.
  • Taxi Driver – Robert De Niro.
  • Dr. ...
  • Juno – Elliot Page.
Sep 27, 2022

How was The Worst Person in the World shot? ›

The Worst Person in the World shot on 35mm, something that Trier believes helped capture one specific aspect of this sequence: The way light moves through the city of Oslo (the film itself is the third part of Trier's informal trilogy about the city).

Why do I feel like The Worst Person in the World? ›

Feeling like a bad person may also be an indicator of depression or anxiety. Symptoms of depression include feelings of guilt and lack of self-worth. In some cases, people with this condition feel fundamentally bad or that the world would be better off without them.

Why do people believe the worst? ›

Additionally, some people default to catastrophizing as a protective measure: “If I think the worst, and the worst doesn't happen, I'll feel relieved.” Other times, we catastrophize because we've had a bad experience we didn't see coming and want to make sure we are not blindsided in the future.

Why do people think the worst of others? ›

Biases toward paying more attention to negative or dangerous things are found in a range of psychological states. Emotions, attention and information processing are all much more strongly influenced by bad things compared to good things, something revealed in studies on memory, decision-making and communication.


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