I haven’t written anything for the blog for a while due to too much work, and have been meaning to review this film for ages.

Back in April I snuck off to an early evening showing of Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s Oscar-nominated, Oslo-set film The Worst Person in the World with my good friend Bridget.

I didn’t have particularly high expectations. The premise I already found a bit annoying: young girl-about-town is unable to commit to a career or a man. I felt like I wasn’t in the right demographic for the film, or the romantic movie genre, and suspected I might find it mostly irritating.

Pre-conceptions can be way off the mark though, and I loved this movie, which proves that apparently tired tropes can be given a whole new lease of life and an instant classic feel in the hands of the right creative team.

The story follows Julie, approaching 30 in the opening scenes of the film, and played by Renate Reinsve, who won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress for the performance.

Divided into 12 “chapters” in a novelistic pastiche, the film opens with a Prologue, in which an archly ironic narrator provides a rapid whip-through of Julie’s adult life to date: she is a medical student who becomes a trainee psychologist, before setting her sights on photography. And at each iteration of her life, she is dating a different guy. But then she meets Aksel (Anders Danielson Lie), a slightly older writer and illustrator of comic strips featuring the obscene and unreconstructed “Bobcat”, and things between them get serious. Julie moves into his home, and the film proper gets under way.

Although they get along, Aksel wants children, and Julie, typically, isn’t sure what she wants. She seems to find his entitled, breeder friends a bit tedious, an effort, and they to find her faintly threatening and unsettling. Aksel begins to grate a bit, and you sense she thinks his Bobcat comics aren’t necessarily all that, and are a bit embarrassing given the glaring anti-feminism of their protagonist. (Aksel takes them very seriously.)  When she meets another man, Eivind, at a party the cat is set among the pigeons, and decisions that matter are called for, in the archetypal coming-of-age style.

Nevertheless the film steers deftly away from cliché, and is a warm, sometimes laugh out loud experience to sink into. It is also emotionally real, with elements of tragedy, and prompted some teary snorting and snotting from some of my fellow cinema-goers. The only thing that I found weird was the way Julie seemed to have no female friends to hash things out with, and only existed in relation to the men in her life. She could really have done with a decent gal pal.

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