For a little while now, English-speaking countries have let the occasional non-English speaking film slip through, and they've fallen in love. It was an Italian man shielding the horrors of life from his young son in a concentration camp. An unexpected man becoming the perfect companion and carer to a wheelchair-bound French aristocrat who'd given up on life. A Swedish family vacationing in the Alps when an avalanche tests a marriage. A group of friends from Denmark experimenting with the effects of alcohol on their productivity. Or a South Korean family attempting to fake it until they make it with horrific results. Now it's Norway's turn. After Cannes embraced 'The Worst Person In The World' ('Verdens verste menneske'), a new star in Renate Reinsve is born, and a new powerhouse in filmmaking is finally discovered. Now, only time will tell if the Academy will do the same (surely!).
Julie (Reinsve) has passions. Many of them. She's also incredibly smart and driven - but towards what, she's not sure. Over the course of four years, she tries her hand at several career options and many varied lovers until she finds herself in a long-term relationship with graphic novelist Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie) while she spends her days working in a book store wondering what to do next. Then, a chance encounter with Elvind (Herbert Nordrum) changes everything. She's in a great relationship, but is it the right relationship? She's a great writer with fantastic thoughts, ideas and opinions with a unique way of expressing herself, but is that her future? Navigating life is hard. Navigating life in your 20s is harder. Societally, you're allowed to take time to find yourself yet people also expect you to get married, have babies, settle down and start to forge a solid path forward for yourself. But does it make you a bad person if you struggle with these things and choose to gamble and make mistakes along the way to finding out?
Remember '500 Days of Summer'? If you change the lead to female, make her actually listen to her partner instead of trying to make them fit her narrative, get rid of the Hall and Oats dance number and other assorted fantasy sequences - except maybe one - make it Norwegian instead of English, and you sort of, kind of, land somewhere resembling 'The Worst Person in the World'. It's a film with such a simple idea yet is so complicated in its subtext, following a young woman as she navigates a period of her 20s. But remember your 20s (if you've made it to that ripe old age yet)? Remember all the shit that was swimming around your head? The neverending doubts and anxieties? The questions? The expectations you could, wouldn't or shouldn't meet? Now imagine having to represent all of that in a visual medium. What creative team Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt and Renate Reinsve have constructed here is exquisite. I have no idea how Trier and Vogt (two men) have managed to write and capture the female voice so well, but it's extraordinary. I liken their skills to what Bo Burnham did with 'Eighth Grade'. Reinsve is also an ethereal and divinely subtle talent who makes me giddy with excitement for her future.
What Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt and Renate Reinsve have created here is exquisite.
This is a story that is told so delicately yet with such strength and conviction you can't help but have the pants charmed of you while simultaneously laughing and crying in all the right places. 'The Worst Person In The World' balances the ecstasy and the agony of young love and young life with the pursuit of passion and purpose - and I cannot wait for everyone to fall in love with this film, especially one sequence that sees Oslo frozen in time. It is... perfection.