Worst person proves good

A newly-released anti-rom com blends humor and insight about a woman who fails to do the expected. As The Worst Person in the World, a woman named Julia heads towards the age of thirty without knowing what she wants to do when she grows up.

Prone to quick breakups and one-night stands, Julia hardly qualifies as the worst person in the world, though she feels bad about herself. Why can’t she be like so many other women and settle into a shared life with a partner and children? Why can’t she find a job or career that fulfills her? Perhaps because traditional rom-com values of totally happy endings rarely fit real life.

With this knowledge, writer-director Joachim Trier carefully and cleverly crafts a female example of the Peter Pan syndrome. As director, he uses cinematic tricks to emphasize mood. This includes freezing all action around Julia, showing her repeatedly stopping various courses she hoped would lead to happiness. And as a writer, Trier divides his story into chapters, which reflect the episodic nature of Julia’s life with its frequent changes.

Starting each move with certainty, she quickly gets overwhelmed in doubt, conflicting emotions beautifully played by Renate Reinsve, who won the Cannes Film Festival Award as best actress for her expressive turn as Julia. An atypical rom-com heroine, Julia nonetheless provides fun moments as The Worst Person in the World.

Incidentally, similar themes show up in Donkeyhead and Definition, Please, just released on Netflix. Both films focus on floundering women and join The Worst Person in the World by providing rewarding twists on traditional expectations.

The Worst Person in the World began its U.S. theatrical release February 4th.


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