Cannes 74: ‘The Worst Person in the World’ Review
Updated: Aug 13, 2021
No, it’s not Hitler’s biopic, nor a serial killer flick, but an irresistible romantic dramedy exploding with cinematic magic.
Director Joachim Trier considers the structure of his latest work a musical, despite the lack of singing and dancing. Playful and exciting, it’s a love story we have seen countless times, but stands apart from its predecessors as it doesn’t try to sell something to the audience, not even classic feel-good resolutions. There are clear Woody Allen, Nora Ephron and Richard Curtis romantic and humorous vibes, but Trier modernises their cult works with a 2021 layer. #MeToo, cancel culture, political correctness and even Covid are realities that are not ignored but dealt with, yet without focusing on them too much. This is a film of our time, perfectly capturing the contradictions of our generation.
The film is not really about today’s issues, but rather today’s people. In particular, the spotlight is on Julie, a young woman in her late twenties whose frequent existential crises force her to reinvent herself: she cutely compares herself to “Bambi on ice”. Years go by and so do her ambitions, passions and relationships. Beautifully shot in 35mm, the film’s pace is marked by 12 chapters, an introduction and an epilogue, of different lengths -sometimes longer, faster, and at other times slower, just like life. It masterfully juggles genres, and by the epilogue you feel like you have seen a different film from that which you were watching at the beginning. Surreal and yet so truthfully close to reality, the film’s structure mirrors the characters’ choices and conversations.
The director employs his distinctive mise-en-scene to enrich the narration. To mention a couple of highlights; Julie’s psychedelic mushroom trip in which she fights her inner demons, and the whimsical scene in which an Oslo frozen in time allows her to run across the city to kiss her lover. A question remains: is she truly the worst person in the world? Sure, Julie is selfish, insecure, unfaithful and inconsistent.. but let he/she who is without sin cast the first stone. The Worst Person in the World deals with love in 2021: the spontaneous idyllic love, as well as the one that grows and withers through ordinary life. Cannes’ finest film so far.