Sundance 2022: 'The Worst Person In The World' Review
Take it easy folks, it's just meant to be a way to express something, not a warning sign pleading you to look away. Norway's latest entry for Best International Feature and director Joachim Trier's dark take on romantic comedy in the form of The Worst Person In The World (Verdens verste menneske in Norwegian), co-written with Eskil Vogt, takes a look at one specific person who is mainly searching for their own direction. That person is Julie (Renate Reinsve), a 20-something medical student when we meet her, who then stumbles her way through young adulthood whether that's a relationship with an older comic artist Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), unclear career path including being a bookstore clerk or an exciting new romance with compassionate Eivind (Herbert Nordrum).
Trier and Vogt break up their script to 14 parts which gives Trier a lot of playing field as a director - mostly for good, should be mentioned. That is because the writing happens to be superb, giving time and space for you to understand Julie, of course, but also those who she spends time with. There are also impressive shifts in tone, locations and pace which keep scenes unusually vibrant, and sometimes those things coalesce with direction such as in a dreamy and beautiful time freeze sequence or with scenes at a party where Julie meets Eivind. There's certain amount of risk involved with so many chapters and couple towards the end start to get a bit repetitive and destructive for Julie as a character; in those chapters she is a mere observer of men which is much less interesting and introspective.
Even with those few and far between moments of getting sidetracked, the acting still holds you tightly in its grip as Reinsve delivers a heart-wrenching performance that covers such range, something that you're lucky to see even couple or few times in a year. Danielsen Lie compliments Reinsve perfectly, especially in heavier emotional scenes such as in 11th chapter where the text might come across as overly manipulative if it weren't for such sincerity that the two actors provide. Since ''Worst Person'' has some unique things going on and takes wild swings considering the genres it's riffing on, there's also specifically one sequence involving a drug trip that is admirable because of the risk, but also not really fitting because it's rather absurd. Still, those things are okay since there needs to be some madness in your methods to make something that actually pops.
Smileys: Screenplay, Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, directing, characterisation
Frowneys: Minor issues with structure
This is why you use deodorant, those armpits might get checked by someone someday.