A young girl Julia (Renate Reinsve), a resident of the Norwegian city of Oslo, is on the verge of thirty years of age, but she still cannot decide what she wants to do in this life.
After leaving school, she went to study at the medical faculty of the university: her excellent grades allowed her to get there. Julia studied to be a surgeon, but she quickly realized that this endless cramming, on which she could not concentrate, was not her. Yes, a surgeon is something like an ordinary artisan!
Psychology is what she needs, Julia decided. If you understand what is going on in a person’s head, then you can help him cope with a variety of problems. And she announced to her mother that she would go to study psychology. Her mother fully supported her in this.
At first she was interested, but it turned out that here too – endless cramming, and she also quickly got bored. Moreover, Julia finally realized what she wants to become – a photographer, because she is such a visual artist. She took out a student loan, spent it on buying photographic equipment and paying for photography courses, and in order to somehow make ends meet, the girl got a job in a bookstore.
Once, at one of the parties, Julia met Axel (Anders Danielsen Lie), the author of a rather popular, albeit somewhat sexist, comic book about a cat that terrorized Oslo. Axel is already over forty, but he is interested in something Julia, and she began to meet with him. Axel says that their relationship is futile, because Julia is much younger than him, but the girl does not want to back down.
“The Worst Man in the World” (the original title, oddly enough, is translated quite accurately) is a film by Norwegian director Joakim Trier. The picture was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, was nominated for the main prize, which it did not receive, but the actress Renate Reinswe, who played the role of Julia, became the winner in the Best Actress category at this festival.
The film also received two Oscar nominations, two BAFTA nominations, two European Academy Film Awards, and a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the French Cesar Awards. So it was not ignored by all major film festivals.
Critics of the picture are delighted – 96% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and the audience also appreciated the picture – 86% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.8 on IMDB.
Structurally, the film is divided into 12 chapters with a prologue and an epilogue. Some chapters are very short, others are quite long.
The name of the picture is due to the reflections of the main character – she sometimes considers herself “the worst person in the world”, although, of course, she is not such, rather the opposite: Yulia is pretty, kind and sympathetic, she just has not yet found herself in life and has not yet ready to be a mother.
The film shows several years of the life of the main character. Her wanderings in the field of choosing a profession, which eventually led to a job in a bookstore, a period of life with Axel, which was too difficult for her, a meeting with Eivin (Herbert Nordram), which was too easy for her, and other events that take place with her.
What I liked is that there is no moralizing in the picture. The director, as it were, observes Yulia’s life and her introspection from a distance, without expressing his opinion about whether she is doing well or badly. He simply explores how people of this generation live, why they are often completely unprepared to have children, and why, with all the modern richness of choice, the availability of the widest opportunities and almost complete freedom, these people are so afraid to make this choice.
So it turns out that the very fact of this rich choice for representatives of the millennial generation leads to the fact that they cannot make their choice, they are afraid of responsibility and refuse to take on any serious obligations. But they are what they are, there is no point in trying to reason with them somehow, in the end, life itself will direct them in the right direction. But what this side will be depends on so many factors: one thing is clear that it will not be exceptionally happy and carefree.
All this seems to be set up quite simply, while Joachim Trier is able to notice all sorts of characteristic everyday moments, as, for example, in the episode with how, during the visit of Yulia and Axel to the house of the artist’s friends, they literally try to force the mistress of the house to dance, and this is expected does not lead to anything good.
At the same time, the director is not afraid to use visual techniques that are not quite typical for purely contemplative cinema: as, for example, in the episode when time seems to stop around Yulia, when she runs on a date with Eivin, or when the heroine goes on a hallucinogenic trip after tasting mushrooms . But it does not look like completely artificial inserts, on the contrary – it, in my opinion, is quite out of place.
Also, the manner of narration can change: from rom-com through dramedy to actual drama. But it is about life, and in life there is always a place for a wide variety of emotions.
Renate Reinswe played Julia wonderfully. It seems to be nothing special, but the character turned out to be very natural and vital. Julia is just like that: with her reflections, hobbies, strengths and weaknesses. A living person, not some cardboard box, and that’s great.
By the way, Renate is a very sought-after theater actress, and she said in an interview that she was going to quit acting in general, because she didn’t come across really interesting roles, but here is Joakim Trier, with whom she starred in a small episodic ten years ago role in the film “Oslo, August 31”, called her to the lead role in his new film, and it already turned out to be a very interesting experience.
Well, as a natural recognition – the prize won for “Best Actress” at the Cannes Film Festival. And this, of course, is fully deserved, the role is downright wonderful.
Axel performed by Anders Danielsen Lie (he played the main role in “Oslo, August 31”) – I liked it, but not to say that I was struck by something. However, he clearly did not have such a task, in the center of the picture – only Julia. However, Anders’ character turned out to be noticeable and interesting.
Herbert Nordrum in the role of Eivin – rather did not like it, but one cannot but admit that he just fully corresponded to the character: apparently, the director wanted to show him just like that.
What is the result? I liked this movie, I enjoyed watching it. Like some disruption of the stereotype after the mainstream – even very good. On the other hand, I don’t share any strong enthusiasm (the same “Licorice Pizza”, the creator of which Paul Thomas Anderson really admired this picture – see the epigraph, I liked it much more), but I am pleased that this film looked, I love this: a kind of slice of life, lack of moralizing, an attempt to understand these people, and not condemn them.
Of course, there will be viewers who will not like this film: for example, Anton Dolin called the picture “not very meaningful”, and Zinaida Pronchenko completely smashed it to shreds, calling it “the worst movie of the year.” Well, what else is there to say?
Directed by: Joakim Trier Cast: Renate Reinswe, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordram, Hans Olav Brenner, Helen Bjorneby, Vidar Sandem, Maria Grazia Di Meo, Lasse Gretland, Karen Reise Kielland, Marianne Krogh
Dramedy, Norway-France-Sweden-Denmark, 2021, 129 min.