The Worst Person in the World (CREDIT: Oslo Pictures/NEON)

Starring: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordrum, Hans Olav Brenner, Helene Bjøreby, Vidar Sandem

Director: Joachim Trier

Running Time: 121 Minutes

Rating: R for Some Sex and a Wild Drug Trip

Release Date: February 4, 2022 (New York & LA)/February 11, 2022 (Additional Cities)

While watching a movie called The Worst Person in the World, I can’t help but wonder: would I  like to be The Worst Person in the World? Or maybe I could just settle for The Worst Person in the Neighborhood. But also, let’s backtrack, because who exactly is this titular Worst Person? Presumably it’s the main character, medical student-turned-psychology student-turned-photographer Julie (Renate Reinsve). But she seems perfectly fine to me! Maybe this is “worst” in the sense of Eric Andre declaring “Bird Up!” “the worst show on television” or a certain psychedelic rock band naming their best-of album The Worst of Jefferson Airplane. Whatever the explanation, this isn’t a mystery that actually needs to be solved. Whether worst, best, or somewhere in between, Julie’s story is plenty compelling.

If we must think of Julie as The Worst, then perhaps we can call out her insistent refusal to conform to everyone’s expectations of her. In particular, her boyfriend Aksel’s (Anders Danielsen Lie) demands can be quite constricting. He’s a comic book writer-artist whose popular anthropomorphic character Bobcat likes to get unbound and frisky. I guess he’s the Scandinavian Fritz the Cat. (In case the cast names hadn’t clued you in, this is a Norwegian film.) Aksel insists that Bobcat is fun and transgressive, while his critics hold him up as the epitome of misogyny. Julie’s not much of a fan either, but the bigger conflict in their relationship is that Aksel just doesn’t really listen to her or see her for who she really is. Eventually, she leaves him for another guy named Eivind, and there is definitely a spark there. Everything just feels more natural with him. But eventually, that fizzles out as well, and this time it’s a little more inexplicable.

So in conclusion, I don’t think I would ever want to be The Worst Person in the World, at least not the version that Julie exemplifies. It looks way too existentially fraught. But I’d be happy to be her friend!. Although maybe we all have our own Worst Person within each of us, and it’s up to us to tease out the Best Version of our Worst Selves.

Also of note: I’ve only seen one of director Joachim Trier’s other films, but I’ve heard that he has a reputation for crafting endings that make you realize that you were watching a completely different movie this whole time. That trend holds up here to a degree, though I would add that The Worst Person in the World both is and isn’t what it appears to be. It’s all about perspective.

The Worst Person in the World is Recommended If You Like: Discussions about misogyny and mansplaining, Random flights of fancy within an otherwise not-fanciful film, Harry Nilsson and Christopher Cross on the soundtrack

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Relationships