' ' Cinema Romantico: 337 Words On...The Worst Person in the World

Thursday, March 24, 2022

337 Words On...The Worst Person in the World

“Who IS this Douglas Raymer?” That’s what a schoolteacher character in Richard Russo’s “Everybody’s Fool” wrote in the margins of a paper written by another character in the book. Maybe it was just because I was reading Russo’s sequel to “Nobody’s Fool” when I watched “The Worst Person in the World”, but that recurring line seemed to echo Julie (Renate Reinsve), the twentysomething titular Worst Person in the World not because she really is, though perhaps a little, but because that’s how it explicitly feels when you’re in your twenties and can’t get your shit together. The movie is mostly about Julie’s struggles to get her shit together, opening with a spectacular shot of her half-looking out over the harbor of Oslo, as if the whole world is laid before her, offering any on ramp she wants, though mostly she flits about off ramps, evoked in the movie’s 12-chapter structure, all of which come to feel disconnected rather than linked and making it so impressive that Reinsve manages to fuse them together by maintaining a true imprudent emotional core, as bored by life as she is buoyed by it. Trier treats her professional ambitions – cycling from medicine to psychology to photography to working in a bookstore (the twentysomething’s hero’s journey) – with an indifferent shrug, all of them more about what she doesn’t want than what she does, not unlike her romantic life, where she pushes back against commitment with the intellectual Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie) for heedlessness with the shallower Eivind (Herbert Nordrum). In one incredible moment, Trier literally brings time to a standstill as Julie races from her apartment with Askely to be with Eivind, past people frozen in the streets. If it’s romantically rendered, it also evokes pushing back against the advance of life itself, refusing to meet that looming responsibility, a surprising dissonance that marks the entire movie. Indeed, its conclusion calls to mind the wicked concluding about-face of “Young Adult”, not quite a happy ending but a rom com blood splattered smiley face.

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