The Worst Person in the World (Verdens verste menneske) earns the distinction of having the worst title of the year. At the screening I attended, people were expecting a biopic about Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein or someone similar. Fortunately, director Joachim Trier appeared after the film and explained the title. Norwegians are such a self-effacing people that when they make a mistake they casually say, “I’m the worst person in the world.” If Trier had chosen this as his title, the experience of watching his film would have been less disorienting. In fact, Trier’s tales of making the film were more interesting than the film itself.
Julie (Renate Reinsve) is an annoyingly indecisive woman who seems to be trying to find herself. We follow her from the ages of 29 to 33. First she’s a medical student, then she pursues psychology, switches to being a photographer and gets a job in a bookstore.
Julie’s romantic life is similarly volatile. She bounces from one serious relationship to another, hurting people along the way, including herself. Presumably we’re supposed to be charmed by her independence and carefree manner, but I, for one, found her to be unsympathetic. If others feel differently, which apparently they do since the film earned an Academy Award nomination, good luck to you.
When Michael Medved and I wrote What Really Happened to the Class of ’65? in 1976, we concluded that the “Sixties Generation” was paralyzed by possibilities. “We struggled forward, constantly shifting our choices, plagued by chronic indecision, searching in vain for a fate that might be worthy of us.”
Evidently, in forty-five years, nothing has changed…at least not in Norway.