The Worst Person in the World

The Worst Person in the World

Not very long ago, I wrote a review of the English translation of Lieke Marsman’s book, The Opposite of a Person, which lent me a wonderful introspective experience regarding a person’s existence in our current milieu. While I was watching The Worst Person in the World on MUBI, I couldn’t help but feel intensely happy about the fact that we’re seeing more stories of individual women, in films and books, who are not perfect. That we are seeing a renaissance in terms of reflection about personhood and its daunting complexities. That a film titled The Worst Person in the World can make you feel so liberated.

Directed by Joachim Trier and written by Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier, The Worst Person in the World has become one of the most talked about films ever since its premiere at Cannes Film Festival last year. Now streaming on MUBI, it is perhaps not an overstatement to say that this is the kind of cinema the world needs right now. The kind of cinema that tries to peel through the layers of our convoluted identities, without making any effort to answer any questions that come to the fore. It is simply an exercise in navigating what notions of love, freedom, motherhood, family, the larger issues of this world like climate change, and many others, mean today and how they affect the individuals we’ve become or are becoming. There are no easy answers to the uncomfortable questions like how do you manage the guilt of living in the age of the current climate crisis or what the boundaries of infidelity are — there is, quite simply, an attempt to set loose these questions.

The Worst Person in the World

At the center of the film is Julie, played by Renate Reinsve. Both the characterisation of the protagonist and the performance by the actress are riveting. In Julie you find the very scarcely seen woman who is brilliant and flakey at the same time. And while you would like to move forward with the assumption that she is not aware of her flakiness, you’re shoved with the realisation soon that she is very well aware of who she is and what she wants. A woman, unafraid to take control of her life, while thoroughly aware of the privilege of doing so and yet not worried about being a work-in-progress, is a woman who will definitely come across as the worst person in the world. But is she really? The film is not your answer to this question; it is your guide to answering that question yourself.

We are in the age of the ‘love yourself’ narrative flooding our social media. The state of our world is morose to say the least. And the Ideological State Apparatuses of Althusserian Marxism are becoming more and more prominent in their control over us and how we choose to live our lives. So a notion people often forget, or perhaps ignore, is what it means to simply live with oneself. To be simply aware of the deep and dark mess we are and not chase perfection. And if it is at all possible, to be anything else, but the worst person in the world.

The Worst Person in the World Joachim Trier, Director

Joachim Trier, Director

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Text Nidhi Verma
Date 19-05-2022