Sundance ‘The Worst Person In The World’ Review: A Norwegian Rom-Com Led By The Best Performances



The rom-com genre currently populated with formulaic tropes and remakes hasn’t seen a good offering in a while. But once in a few years, a film comes along and challenges the status quo in a way that one never thought was possible. That’s precisely what ‘The World Person In The World’, a Norwegian film does in 12 chapters that play out the life stages of a woman on a quest for individualism, love and mostly, purpose. Directed by Joachim Trier, the film casts Renate Reinsve as Julie whose indecisiveness leads to several life changes that don’t always reach pleasant outcomes. With fantastic performances, deeply emotional arcs and stylised direction, the film is the most inventive rom-com in recent times. And perhaps the best film of the year (I know, we’re only a month into 2022).

The film opens with Julie changing careers at the drop of a hat, she goes from studying to be a surgeon to photography and then writing at a dizzying speed. The camera follows her ever-shifting gaze as she abruptly makes decisions some of which aren’t entirely thought through but she does it with conviction. Her relationship with her long-term boyfriend Aksel (played by Anders Danielsen Lie) – a popular graphic novelist who is 15 years older than herself also leaves her searching for meaning. Between arguments about whether or not they should have kids, Julie sets out by herself, crashes a wedding party and hits it off with a charming stranger Elvind (played by Herbert Nordrum). They have a gala time giving each other silly dares before deciding that they aren’t technically cheating in a chapter titled “Cheating”. Giddy on her newfound moment of happiness, she makes yet another life-changing decision. But that doesn’t make her the worst person in the world. Abandon all hope to decipher the title before going into this film because there’s nothing one can do to prepare for what’s about to go down in its 2 hour-long runtime.

The Worst Person In The World chronicles womanhood and relationships through a refreshing lens led by Renate Reinsve’s towering act.

Julie carries a lot of familial baggage so the traditional idea of starting a family isn’t on her bucket list. In her steady relationship with Aksel, she finds herself feeling as unsure as she is about her career. It doesn’t necessarily mean she doesn’t love him. Instead, the film tries to tell us that discovering love and happiness is inherently attached to discovering oneself. So Julie finds herself torn between staying where she’s comfortable with Aksel and exploring other parts of herself with Elvind. The film dissects this dilemma in sprawling chapters, each filled with stunning performances. The actress plays Julie with such authenticity, it’s easy to get invested in her story. It’s commendable the sheer range she pulls off. And before you know it, you’re 2 hours into the Renate Reinsve show, completely drawn in and unaware of the passage of time.

Sundance Film Festival

Danielsen Lie’s performance is not to be overlooked either. The actor appears in some of the poignant chapters of the film and watching him play the nuanced, complex Aksel bursting with genuine affection and frustration is a major tearjerker in the film. There are at least two heartbreaking scenes that will absolutely wreck viewers, that much is guaranteed. Without spoiling the plot, let’s just say that this rom-com isn’t afraid to go into some dark, existential places.

A lot of the credit is due to director Trier who co-wrote the script with Eskil Vogt and cinematographer Kasper Tuxen. The storytelling beautifully brings forth Julie’s feelings and comments on the act of finding oneself in the urban landscape while the visuals that adapt to fit the character’s moods work in perfect harmony. Not many films can justify using a story-book like narrative but if there’s any film that required it, it’s The Worst Person In The World.

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The World Person In The World premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival on the heels of its success at Cannes and has been on top of critics’ must-watch list ever since. For a film that does so much differently, its messaging remains delightfully and sometimes heartachingly relatable. It’s a woman’s journey to find her purpose and love in a messy world full of distractions. And while you can interpret if following an uncharted path makes them the worst person in the world, there is absolutely no doubt that Reinsve is the best person in the world for this incredible role. And that’s quite the triumph.

The Worst Person In The World was screened at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is set for a limited theatrical release in the U.S.

SEE ALSO: Sundance ‘FRESH’ Review: Sebastian Stan Is Unhinged In This Jaw-Dropping Horror Rom-Com

Cover image: Sundance Film Festival


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