Perhaps because of its its provocative title, this turgid romantic melodrama from Norway became one of the top contenders for Best International Feature of 2021 – after Vanity Fair and The Atlantic declared it the Best Movie of the Year.
To say capricious twentysomething Julie (Renate Reinsve) is confused is an understatement. Divided into 12 tedious chapters, plus a prologue and epilogue, her story begins as she’s impetuously quitting medical school because she finds it too much like carpentry.
She then thrusts herself into studying psychology because she finds minds more interesting than bodies, only to abandon that for photography, explaining, “I go from one thing to another. I never see anything through.”
Also unable to get her love life together as her 30h birthday approaches, Julie’s whimsical affections waver between caustic comic-book artist Askel (Anders Danielsen Lie) – who’s in his mid-40s and wants a family while she doesn’t – and Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), a complacent barista with whom she flirts when she crashes a wedding reception.
Carefree duplicity comes easily to entitled Julie, who skirts around the varied, intimate parameters of cheating that comprise infidelity, which psychologically traces back to a frustrating relationship with her unreliable, indifferent father (Vidar Sandern).
Screenwriter Eskil Vogt again collaborates with director Joachim Trier (Reprise, Oslo, August 31st) and cinematographer Kasper Tuxen, utilizing several clever gimmicks, including a third-person narration, to glue the quasi-comedy together – like the fantasy of having everyone else in Oslo freeze in place while Julie runs ‘cross town to jump into the arms of her new lover.
FYI: Eventually, when the self-deprecating title phrase is used in the script, it doesn’t even refer to Julie.
Radiantly uninhibited Renate Reisve evokes memories of capricious Greta Gerwig, romping though Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, making the most of challenging, confrontational chapters like “Oral Sex in the Age of #MeToo.”
On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, The Worst Person in the World is a fragmented, unfocused 5, making one wonder how it ever got nominated.