Combustible Celluloid
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With: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordrum, Hans Olav Brenner, Helene Bjørneby, Vidar Sandem, Maria Grazia Di Meo, Lasse Gretland, Karen Røise Kielland, Marianne Krogh, Thea Stabell, Deniz Kaya, Eia Skjønsberg
Written by: Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt
Directed by: Joachim Trier
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and some language
Language: Norwegian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 127
Date: 02/04/2022

The Worst Person in the World (2022)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Uncertain Woman

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For some reason, Joachim Trier's The Worst Person in the World keeps being referred to as a romantic comedy. That plus the strange, off-putting title makes it difficult to get to heart of the movie, which is not particularly funny, nor particularly romantic, and actually all about messy relationships and choices avoided, made, and regretted. At its core, it really is a three-dimensional, organic portrait of a woman, Julie (Renate Reinsve), who has no idea what she wants, in any aspect. And that's OK, because she keeps moving along, keeps on trying things. Over the course of four years — and in a dozen chapters — she changes her focus from medicine to psychology, to photography, to writing, and other things, and back again.

She meets Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), who is somewhat famous for an underground comic, but also falls in love with the married Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), who is a barista and closer to her age. His own wife has discovered that she's 3% Sámi and has become insufferably obsessed with pursuing a "pure" Sámi lifestyle. As in many movies like this, there's cancer and a pregnancy, but there's also a psychedelic mushroom trip, and a sequence in which time freezes for everyone except Julie and Eivind so that they can spend the day together undisturbed. It's an unexpected movie, certainly odd and awkward at times, far too long, but fine-tuned and perceptive in the ways of human foibles. Trier considers it the third in a trilogy that includes Reprise (2006) — which I have not seen — and Oslo, August 31st (2011).

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