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“The Worst Person In The World” (2021) – The Norwegian Ode To The Millenials


The Norwegian Ode To The Millenials

Millennials are known as people born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s. They have grown up during a time of big technological advancements and economic upheaval. They are creative, tolerant, curious, tend to switch jobs, and can accept changes. However, Millennials are also known to be more psychologically infantile than the people from the previous generation. Does it mean the Millennials are bad and unable to lead a normal life? The film “The Worst Person In The World” (2021), directed by Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier, and the 2021 Oscar nominee is possibly one of the best cinematographic approaches to depict this generation in the history of cinema.

The story is centered on the main character, the medical student Julie. She is approaching her 30th birthday, and she shifts between different studies, jobs, and aspirations. The film chronicles four years of her life in 12 chapters. She has tried her hand at everything many confused millennials go through, from having an affair with a professor to trying to write something, but in the future, she will maybe progress except with essays on oral sex and feminism.

The dramedy (yes, it is not a comedy or just an entertaining film for the weekend with popcorn and National Casino!)  is a film about existential crisis and disappointment. Julie doesn’t seem to lead a bad life, but she isn’t able to achieve anything. It should be noted that there is a rather honest statement about death in the film on behalf of a generation that doesn’t want to die, as it will leave behind only an environmental layer of cat memes. Hence the doubts about the desire to have children, to bring new meanings into this world, or to follow the old ones. 

The ability to accept changes surely has its advantages for people, but it is tragic if you can’t make any choices. Julie is talented but struggles to find the purpose of her life. And the film itself also inherits from its characters a certain feverishness and turmoil. This defiantly man-made attempt to structure the film chapter by chapter reflects, among other things, Julie and the other characters’ desire to find some frame of reference and signs pointing them in the right direction. Julie changes her degrees from medicine to photography and changes men. She tries to take pictures, write articles, and falls in love with a man she barely knows. 

Julie struggles to find a meaningful existence and her life is based on her momentary, subjective feelings. Sometimes the purpose of life and life itself may be nothing more than the search for meaning and something stable… Overwhelmed with inner anxiety, Julie wants to leave one of her new partners, but soon she realizes she is pregnant. 

The episode in her life that helps her find a (hopefully!) right or at least in a certain direction is the death of her former lover, a comic book artist Aksel. He wanted to build a strong family with Julie in the past and always wanted to have children, he is a successful artist but got diagnosed with cancer. Julie realizes that one day it may be too late for following plans and aspirations, therefore it is crucial to make choices. What is her choice? She decides to be a photographer. She still seems to be a bit vague in her inclinations, but the episode with Aksel must have changed her. 

Is Julie bad? Maybe yes, and maybe no, and the name of the film is an ironic phrase of one of the main characters. Before he dies, Aksel says to Julie, she is a wonderful person. However, we don’t know for sure: Julie must find it out by herself. And this idea is the magic of  “The Worst Person In The World”, this tale of life, art, self-frustration, love, and existential crisis.