Plot: What’s it about?
I’d read (or written, I can’t remember) a review in which the gist of what was said was this: “…has arrived at time in his life in which he’s technically an adult, but still has no idea what to do with his life.” Or something to that effect. But it got me thinking that life, no matter how you slice it, is difficult. Regardless if you’re rich or poor, the color of your skin and so forth. We all have to figure out our own paths in life. My younger brother was married at the age of 21. He finished college with a wedding ring on his finger and, as of this writing, just celebrated 25 years of marriage. Me on the other hand, well…I took my time in life. I decided to focus on “me” and that’s the central theme of The Worst Person in the World. We’ve all had the thought of “I need to get my act together” and the film follows its protagonist (or antagonist, depending on your point of view) through four years of her life. This is her story.
We meet Julie (Renate Reinsve), a young woman who we witness grow over the course of four years. She starts out a medical student who, on a whim, decides to switch to Psychology and then finally to Photography. She can’t ever seem to focus on something as she seems a bit all over the map and in many ways, her love life is the same way. She’s dating a slightly-older man, Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie) who follows the more traditional path – he wants children. Julie freaks out and decides to have a fling with Eiviind (Herbert Nordrum), who she meets at a party. When she decides to tell Aksel about it she decides to sleep with him one last time in an attempt to make him feel better. And that’s the gist of the film – we see Julie and her spontaneous decisions and how they affect others. When she’s later reunited with Aksel, Julie finally begins to see the light.
I’m often fascinated at how the “ripple effect” really can impact us, but more importantly – those around us. I’d heard a line of dialogue on a television show in which a character was complaining about their life. The response was “Well, life is certainly less complicated when you’re only looking out for yourself.” That seemed to resonate with me while watching this movie. It’s thought that a majority of us might have our lives planned out for us. Go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, etc. And yes, that’s straight out of Fight Club. Julie might not be the most likable character, but she’s one that a lot, if not most, of us can relate to. Is she the worst person in the world – or just a person in it?
Video: How’s it look?
I’m not one for “world cinema” though when it comes to how a film looks I’m of the mindset that it really shouldn’t matter where the film was made. This is a new release to the Criterion Collection and a new release all together, that’s something that Criterion doesn’t do a whole lot. That said there wasn’t a need for one of their restorations that they’ve become known for. The 1.85:1 AVC HD encode is a breath of fresh air. I never thought I’d say this, but I now prefer films in a more standard aspect ratio that fill my screen. Colors are bold and bright. They pop. Visuals have a definite clarity to them with razor sharp edges and lush backdrops. Contrast and black levels work well off one another and flesh tones appear warm and natural. It’s a great-looking picture.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The included DTS HD Master Audio mix has a trick up its sleeve – it’s Norwegian. And I doubt many people outside of Norway are too fluent in the language. That said, you’ll be doing a lot of reading with the subtitles but it’s OK. The audio (apart from the dialogue) is actually pretty expansive, something I wasn’t expecting. Then again I’m guilty of judging a book by its cover and, well, this just didn’t seem like the movie that’d be as dynamic as it was. Color this guy impressed.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Deleted Scenes – We’re treated to just over ten minutes of deleted scenes.
- Julie and Ingvild
- Aksel’s Old Neighborhood
- Making The Worst Person in the World – This 50 minute featurette has interviews with director Joachim Trier, actors Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, and Herbert Nordrum, screenwriter Eskil Vogt, and sound designer Gisle Tveito as they discuss the project and everything associated with it.
- Behind the Scenes: Frozen in Time – The “still sequence” is pretty amazing. Here we are greeted by Jachim Trier and cinematographer Kasper Tuxen as they break down how it was done and give us some information on the part and its meaning.
- Illustrated Booklet – Critic Sheila O’Malley’s essay “Lost and Found” is included as is the obligatory leaflet with production stills and the like.
The Bottom Line
The Worst Person in the World is certainly a unique movie and one that I surprisingly related to. The film is about looking at oneself in the mirror and recognizing that too much focus on that reflection could end up hurting those you care about. Criterion’s disc is amazing, with just enough extras to warrant a purchase.