By JAVIER DOSAMANTES
“The Worst Person in the World” is one of the most ambitious movies of the year. Not because it’s abstract or over the top, but because it’s inventive and original.
Almost every movie nowadays is based on a comic book, it’s a remake or a biopic — and every now and then we get a completely original movie that resonates with audiences and critics.
This is that movie.
It feels refreshing even if the plot is something we’ve seen before: it’s a highbrow mix between “A Lot Like Love” and “One Day.”
But Joachim Trier directed and co-wrote this movie with longtime collaborator Eskil Vogt in a way that it feels like it lives on its own island because it doesn’t adhere to one or two genres.
At times it plays like a rom-com, then a coming-of-age tale and suddenly becomes a drama, then back to rom-com with some Apatow 2000s raunchy comedy in it.
It also has a lot of the “Kicking and Screaming (1995)” DNA, from the standpoint that it reflects the anxiety people feel in their 20s experience after they graduate college, or drop out and try to figure out life on the fly.
The protagonist is one of the reasons why this ambitious mashup of ideas works.
Julie is a terrifically written character. She is navigating through her 20s into her 30s as best as she can, while discovering where she belongs professionally, romantically and who she is as a person.
This role sometimes feels cliché, but it works in this movie because of how her arc was written and how Renate Reinsve played it. She was brilliant and this will be her breakout role.
The character of Julie is charming, alluring, frustrating and selfish. But Reinsve played her with an authentic vulnerability that you can’t help but to sympathize with what she’s going through.
One of Julie’s romantic interests, Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), is also a great character and perfect contrast to Julia.
Aksel is a 40-something famous cartoonist of a once popular (and politically incorrect) comic book series. And this generational difference in ideals and lifestyle helps Julie look into the future of adulthood vicariously through him.
Danielsen Lie is a recurrent muse for Trier, and he was perfectly casted. His ability to blend into the background and be Julie’s moral compass was exactly what the character of Aksel had to be.
Even if he didn’t carry the film, he had an amazing performance and toward the end delivered the film’s best dialogue and acting.
Another important character, Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), was also a product of the Oscar-nominated screenplay.
Julie’s still wandering spirit and fear of settling down is not represented through a relationship with the archetype of a character like Javier Bardem’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”
Instead, it is represented by the aimless and goofy Eivind, who provides an escape for Julie when life is getting serious or tough, and Nordrum did a solid job at playing the part.
All of these elements of the film were put together beautifully by Trier. The screenplay provided a great foundation for the actors to bring the story to life, and Trier’s camera work added more depth to the film.
The fast cuts, lighting, panoramic views and close-ups sync perfectly with the soundtrack, writing and acting.
“The Worst Person in the World” is deservedly nominated for a Best Original Screenplay and the Best International Feature Film Oscars.
“Licorice Pizza” most likely will snag the Best Original Screenplay award, but the Best International Feature award most likely will go to this movie. Unfortunately, Hollywood will try to remake it, like last year’s winner “Another Round.”
Movies like this aren’t made by Hollywood anymore. It’s an original raunchy and heartwarming dramedy that everyone should watch and follow Bong Joon Ho’s advice in his Golden Globes speech:
“Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”