WHAT I LIKED: Joachim Trier's 'The Worst Person in the World,' is a film about a woman's heart-achingly real struggle to feel content against her own and others expectations of her life.
After a brief prologue montage outlining her jump from career to career in her early 20s, we meet Julie (Renate Reinsve) a few years later as she settles down with an older man Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie) and finds solace in their domesticity. She quickly becomes restless however; conflicted about the prospect of having kids before doing something with her life, but not considering what that something might be and feeling hurt by the judgements of Aksel's mature friends. She constantly seeks moments of freedom, and though he attempts to reason with her to find contentment, she eventually leaves Aksel for a man more her age (Herbert Nordrum). That's all hunky dory for a while, but she quickly becomes dissatisfied with him too because she feels they're not going anywhere.
That constant search for happiness is a heartbreaking thing to watch, and it only translates so well because Trier's camera and Reinsve's incredibly expressive face do so much of the talking (albeit alongside some brilliant narration), and the script paints such nuanced characters through unbelievably accurate and raw conversations and scenarios.
But to further its overall impact, the story also makes you think about what causes such restlessness, and ultimately seems to suggest that it's all about expectation - a sentiment that I certainly share. Julie is partly searching for the approval and stability that her father never gave her, but we also see many conversations where she's judged by friends or strangers for her choices and there's even talk of social media adjusting expectations too; all of which has led her to constantly feel that her life is inadequate and that the grass could be greener elsewhere.
It's never quite clear how or if that restlessness will end, but her reconnection with Aksel in the final act after his sudden terminal diagnosis helps to put things into perspective. His contemplations encourage Julie to find her own happiness and not worry about whether things could be better elsewhere, or if what she's doing is right.
The thematic conclusion, then? Just because you think things could be better or other people think you're not in the right place, if you're happy with what you're doing, don't second-guess it. That's a perfect message, and it makes for easily one of the most impactful films of the year.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: It is a difficult watch at times, as the dilemmas are so real and could certainly have concluded differently.
VERDICT: 'The Worst Person in the World,' is an incredibly human character-study with a powerful message about how contentment should be about what you make it, not what you and others expect.