If this title is referring to the main character, it may be right, but there’s little sense that this film is willing to be that sardonic to its characters it loves too much. The film shows the various moments of Julie’s (Renate Reinsve) dating life, spread across 12 chapters. She starts off dating her first boyfriend, but whilst on a date with him, she meets Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), who becomes her new boyfriend. But whilst she’s out on a date with him, she meets Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), who then becomes her new new boyfriend. As you can see, there’s a lot of indecisiveness, a lot of flip-flopping, and a whole lot of cheating.
As the title suggests, Julie’s hardly a likeable character, but the film appears to like her more than the audience does. She just seems the criss-cross between lovers in an inconsequential manner. The film’s title is the most honest and playful part of this otherwise earnest film, that is often so tonally off. It’s not just the Julie character, but some of the others who seem as comically inept and aloof as her – but the film is too kind to really address these interesting character facets.
On a technical level, the film appears to be very well made, with good acting from all, some melancholic music, and a few rather fine and adventurous directorial moments. But it’s just hard to get engaged with these incredible moments because of the troubling context they’re in. Just like with If Beale Street Could Talk, there are moments of romance that seem to be more about the filmmaking than the people. It’s hard to want to care about these characters in their relationships, despite how real their arguments and conversations seem.
The only technical aspect that doesn’t work is dividing this story up into these chapters, which doesn’t feel like it has much bearing on the story, in fact it makes the film seem more piecemeal. There are more than a couple of chapters that are so brief and so inconsequential, they might as well not be there.
Despite the amusing title, there’s nothing actually amusing or even playful in the film, it just gets so dour and so despondent by the end. There are a few moments where the film seems to approach something very comical and satirical about our modern world, but it ends up going nowhere because these half-baked ideas are only to serve the romance (whether Julie deserves this kind of romance or not).
The Worst Person in the World plays at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, November 22 to Sunday, November 28. For more information and to buy tickets head to perthfestival.com.au