The Worst Person in the World : the oldest cliché in the world
The first time I heard about The Worst Person in the World I was very intrigued by the title. What could make Julie the worst person? As the film won nominations and awards, I got very excited about its UK release that happened the day after my birthday. Turning 27 this year, I felt like this film would be very relevant to me. Julie is in her late twenties and has many things she wants to do with her life but doesn’t seem to be able to make a decision. She is at this point where you feel like any decision might lead you on the path to success or completely ruin your life.
Trier captures this feeling very well. Julie wants to be a doctor, a psychologist and a photographer. The years between 25 and 30, as a woman, you do feel the pressure to figure your life out, put your career on the rails and start ticking items off your bucket list.
Although there are no time where you are told ‘congrats you are an adult’, 30 seems like the time people start looking at you and judge you for your actions harsher if you are still figuring things out than they do men. Because, you know, boys will be boys.
The film has some amazing shots. The sunsets every time Julie has a new start. The time where the world stops and she is trying to detangle all of her feelings and thoughts before making a big life decision and decide if she will follow her heart or her head.
But one thing that is extremely problematic, is that she is constantly defined by her relationships with men. We follow her journey but the times we are immersed into her inner world - which are the best moments of the film- can be counted on one hand.
© Oslo Pictures
Aksel, her longest relationship, is taking too much screen time, dialogue time and place. We know all about him but nothing about her. He is seen being sexist on screen during a radio interview and she has no reaction to it because like the next scene she learns he has cancer so I guess misogyny is okay if he’s going to die.
After she meets him, the film is about him not about her. It looks like she wants to write but we never see her write or her thoughts about the world. Articles are mentioned and then it looks like she does nothing.
We know she did photography before meeting him but she is completely taken out as an individual and only shown as a girlfriend. We seen his friends but not hers. Where is her circle? How does it clash with that older man’s circle? What do the friends say? She says ‘I feel like a spectator in my own life’. I was waiting for the film to elaborate on that. I related to that feeling so much as I am trying to create my own career path and often feel limited by my gender and how people see what I should do and the role they are trying to sometimes consciously or unconsciously assign to me.
She is battling with the same pressures that women face in the same age range and beyond. If she is failing at something, we don’t know what it is. She says they have problems, but what are they?
We never see her alone, her thoughts on those problems. The relationship is shown from his perspective never hers. Her perspective comes in when she breaks up with him…to get with another guy!
© MK2 Films
I thought we were heading to hear realising that she wants to do more and that has nothing to do with the men but with her own feelings and that she might need to take more time to do her own stuff and see her reclaim her identity but we never see that. She gets pregnant and then miscarriage happens. The dialogue for a perspective on motherhood and often what it means for a career or how a relationship can handle those things but we jump in time and find her all alone working her dream job.
But we never know how she gets there. If the first part of the film is about her, the second is about the men in her life. She is the main character but she probably doesn’t have most of the speaking time. I feel like we miss out on so much character development that could have been so interesting!
The conclusion we get to is so stereotypical as if women’s only choice is between relationship and career. As it’s pretty much the only things we see on screen, that also the only choice that seems viable for women because we don’t push men to be feminists and pick up half of their share at home, with kids, in the relationship.
So the end feels like if you want to succeed you got to be alone. The dialogue about equality in a couple could have been very interested. I feel like she was seen too many times through a male perspective and we missed out on valuable female insights into that time of life.
© Oslo Pictures
I am tired of men showing women but without the complexity and making still two dimensional characters. She is 30 and probably has some feminist ideas, but we never hear them. She just exists as a fantasy, not too much, only the right amount of ambitious, sexy.
Not the worst person in the world but probably the oldest cliche in the world. Making me want to write an accurate film about that experience and showing the women’s point of view! The fact that the narrator is male also feels like mansplaining women’s experiences to women and feels quite patronising. And the script is written by two men when the subject is the female experience, doesn’t that seem a bit weird? The lack of women’s insights is what lets the film down. That could have been easily avoided with a woman co-writing the script.
I hope this film will have open the door to more women taking those subjects and showing producers that films about women can make money and help women to get the funding they need to make those films and show our perspectives and stop being seen through the prism of men our complexity constantly brushed over.