The Worst Person in the World - Cannes reviews: Millennial love in 12 chapters (with prologue and epilogue)
30 year old Julie walks on by in latest Joachim Trier Cannes feature
A woman on the verge of her 20's stands still on a balcony at a party and reflects upon her life. Her name is Julie, and she was a medical student until she felt it was too strict and unsatisfying. Then she studied psychology until she discovered that there is more to life than the human mind. So she decided to become the photographer, to interact with the true and raw essence of being alive. Every decision in her professional and love life led to that balcony at that party...
The opening shot of The worst person in the world, the latest feature film by Joachim Trier, that had its world premiere last night at Cannes Film Festival gives us a peek into the abyss of the millennial search for meaning. At first sight, it seems impossible not to compare it with Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha, but truth to be told, the only common ground between the two is somewhat the topic that has been so far underexplored in the cinematic form. With this being said, Trier gives a completely new approach, 12 chapters + prologue + epilogue to the story of Julie - starring Renate Reinsve, millennial coping with, well the life of millennials.
Chapters, which could be seen as episodes in the life of the protagonist and her many lovers, are filled with playful trips within the form, from a bit cliche looking love story, over the Novelue Vogue goes 21 century, to comic book animations getting alive. All of this, in the function of giving a larger picture of the complex life of the generation getting to the verge of their 30's. And, that is what makes this film so honest and easy to watch, the conflict feels real, the issues and problems presented are something understandable and generation less. The seek of "true self" might be something best known to millennials but Trier finds a way to pick up common, everyday life situations that anybody and everybody needs to deal with.
If one would want to distinguish between Trier's and Baumbach's lost millennial woman, it would be the focus. While Frances is an artist in the search for her place in the world, and while she is the centre of attention and her problems seem larger than the world, Julie on the other hand is one in a many, she navigates and interacts within her generation as well as within the older generations and leaves a trace. Every decision she makes in one of her episodes, in a long run, makes consequences towards others in later chapters.
Probably the highlight of the film, that beautifully depicts how deep Trier explores the topic is chapter "Cheating" where Julie and a stranger at a random party she crashed try to stay loyal to their partners while still pushing the limits of what staying loyal means, or better yet, where do we draw a line between loyalty and cheating.
Another thing worth the praise in the film is the humour that relies on simple yet truthful everyday situations, like lying to someone that we had read/seen their work. Or liking a hot Instagram photo...of an ex... in front of a current partner.
Overall, The worst person in the world is a refreshing millennial love story, that shows the genuine lives of a generation, sprinkled with the most subtle pop culture references and heartwarming situational comedy. Joachim Trier, that we all thought was a genius of the contemporary horror genre throughout 121 minutes of this film showed to us that there is way more to who he is and what can be expected from him.