The Worst Person In The World, the Cannes Best Actress-winning film about Julie, aged almost- 30, experiencing the fraught relationships, and veritable vicissitudes of life in modern-day Oslo could be seen to be trite, cliched, or tired – only it isn’t.
Joachim Trier’s attempt at packaging the ennui, disillusionment and glaring vanity of the first-world millennial quarter-life crisis is effective precisely because it is so self-aware. Case in point: the movie opens with a dizzying montage of the overachieving Julie deciding to abandon her ambitions as a medical student and study psychology, and then quickly abandoning psychology to become a photographer. While working her perennial ‘temp’ job at a bookstore, she meets a graphic novelist over a decade older than her and they begin a relationship. Rapid fire narration wryly underscores her indecision; a wink to the camera that shows the film knows these tribulations are cringeworthy but, in the end, universal.
From here the story is episodic, split into a dizzying 12 parts – plus epilogue – that chart everything from Julie’s relationship with her estranged father, to her mind-boggling odyssey after consuming magic mushrooms for the first time, and her brief flirtation with personal essay writing that makes a splash on social media.
Each part, though self-contained, builds toward a wider tapestry of projected insecurities, general existential contemplation, and a seemingly endless process of coming-of-age. The film’s thoughtful construction of Julie’s experiences, while relatable, disarmingly makes no attempt to cast generalisations around the throes of love, sex, and career ambitions, and is left all the more bitterly funny and enjoyable for it.