Given that we have just had the Oscars there are still other films that were nominated that I have wanted to see. In particular, the only film that I saw nominated in the Best International Film category was Flee. So when the chance came up to see The Worst Person in the World in the cinema I decided to jump at it, given that it was likely that it would not be playing here in Cheltenham for very long (which I was right about). Having now seen the film, whilst I can’t say definitively whether I would have given it the Oscar, as I’ve still not seen three of the other nominees, I can say this was a worthy nominee.
The film follows Julie, a medical student in Oslo who decides to go into psychology and later photography, who soon meets and starts a relationship with Aksel, a successful comic book artist 15 years older than her. Over the course of the film we see how the relationship between the two develops and changes, along with Julie getting involved with Eivind, a person she meets at a wedding she gatecrashes and who she forms an emotional connection with. Now the structure of the film is interesting, being split into 12 chapters, along with a prologue and an epilogue. This allows the relationships Julie has throughout the film to be explored in a pretty believable and honest manner, showing the key moments throughout them and how they influence Julie’s life moving forwards. It doesn’t sugar coat it either. There are themes at play over the nature of parenthood, whether it is worth cutting ties with a neglectful parent, what it means to cheat on a partner and modern sexuality. What works really well here is that the film does not have a judgemental attitude. It would have been easy for the film to judge Julie and her actions, clearly presenting them as wrong, but it shows how Julie comes to each decision she makes in the course of the film and we understand exactly how she came to each decision. It also works well in showing the pressures that people get placed under and how this results in life decisions that may not make sense on the surface but there is a clear personal logic to it. The structure of the film, being divided into different chapters, gives it a clear episodic feel, but it works in presenting a realistic depiction of life and how important certain key events are.
The performances as well are excellent. Renate Reinsve does an excellent job at playing Julie. It would have been easy to make Julie unlikeable but Reinsve does a good job at showing the vulnerability of the character and makes every decision and development of the character feel believable. As the film goes on she does a great job at showing her insecurities over her life and her relationships. Anders Danielsen Lie as Aksel works well at showing his feelings towards Julie, along with showing the ego of the character, especially when it comes to his comic character. There are some points where he comes off like a bit of a dickhead, but this works in showing Aksel as a fully rounded character, with his performance at the end showing a more tragic side to him. Herbert Nordrum as Eivind meanwhile has great chemistry with Reinsve, showing how Julie developed feelings for the character, but also shows him to be more inattentive towards Julie towards the end of the film, contrasting with the strong emotional bond the characters form when they first meet, his role being a good personification of the way relationships fizzle out.
Overall, I found The Worst Person in the World to be a really profound look at modern relationships and life, demonstrating the complexity of life and how, even when it is messy and complicated, there are still moments of joy to be felt, the episodic structure of the film effectively showing how life can be a mixed bag of good and bad memories, but that people can keep growing and evolving into the best, and more authentic, version of themselves.
My Rating: 5/5