Rated R, mostly for pretty intense sex scenes. But there also is a weird drug trip that goes into some uncomfortable places. This is one of those movies that screams, "Of course this is R. Why wouldn't it be R?" So don't think that you should watch this without people looking at you. Either that, or develop safe places of trust with others.
DIRECTOR: Joachim Trier
It's going to get to this point eventually, so mind as well drop this comparison now. My wife keeps calling this the Norwegian Amelie. It's been long enough since I've seen Amelie that I can neither confirm nor deny that. I do remember Amelie being more twee than The Worst Person in the World. But I have to say...I loved it. I mean, I really loved it. I'm genuinely surprised that it was up for an Academy Award. But I almost have no faults with the movie.
I am interested in the title though. The title is something. Because it automatically infuses the audience with a sense of expectation that the film never really goes for. But when you watch this movie, there's a sense of irony in the title. Julie isn't a good person. There's no moment of altruism in the movie. But Julie's sins are fantastically social sins. There are moments where we absolutely should condemn Julie, The affair bit is absolutely unforgivable, despite the fact that the movie slightly romanticizes it. (I'll get to that in a second.) But the things that Julie does are what people do. It's what Hollywood tells us to do. Where the title of the film plays an important role is that it reminds us that we are the villains of our own narratives. Yeah, I think of myself as the hero in a lot of cases, but that's because I like to ride a pretty high horse. As much as I find myself the hero of my story, there are times where I overly condemn myself for the missteps in my life. Julie keeps making these mistakes, but that's because she is in that stage of arrested development where she keeps finding reasons to make bold choices that make no sense.
I love that the prologue of the piece is Julie finding new careers over and over. I have a hard time separating this from the main theme because it is part of the direct characterization of Julie. But it never really comes back into play beyond the prologue. But that choice to tell us this in the prologue has some weight. There is what Julie genuinely wants out of life and what she thinks will bring her the most prestige. Everything in Julie's life is what is slightly forbidden and resume building. It's funny that Julie is only in med school because it is this one-in-a-billion profession. But she loses a sense of value for the medical profession when everyone there is as qualified as she is. For the first time in her life, she isn't special. That's the issue I have with a lot of my life. I always want to be the center of attention. I have a blog with a drawing of my face plastered over each page, so keep that in mind. If someone I knew did the exact same thing I did, only better, I would slink away into the shadows because I wasn't the best at something. I consider myself to be an amazing teacher, yet I find myself horribly depressed that it is rarely acknowledged. And I'm aware that it makes me --wait for it --the worst person in the world.
That's maybe what I like about the movie so much. Is that Julie does make a lot of bad choices because she's not getting the attention she desperately craves. She only likes Aksel when he rejects her. She finds him unattractive when he becomes this safe success. He finds fulfillment in himself because Aksel has a stable relationship and a lucrative comic book. It's in this moment that she finds value in Eivind. I'm Team Aksel all the way, by the way. I think we're supposed to be, despite the romanticized adultery that the movie boasts. Eivind has nothing to offer. He's kind of goofy looking (sorry for being superficial). But moreover, he's a barista. When Aksel becomes more of a focus than she is, she is able to see her relationship in contrast to her own. She runs to a place where she can be the alpha in the relationship once more. It's appropriate that the one really big argument that Aksel and Julie have are over children with their friends. It's because people don't like her and scorn the fact that she doesn't have children. While I genuinely think that she finds children a burden, it is a vacation of people who have their lives together. They seem happy. It's only when she hears the rip-roaring row next door does she find value in Aksel. Adults with children don't necessarily have their lives together.
The miscarriage is an odd choice. There's a thread about children and Julia, contrasting the opinions of Aksel versus Eivind. Aksel wants children in the twilight of his youth. He knows that there is only so much time (which foreshadows his own bout with cancer) to have children and Julie is not prepared to have children. After all, that would mean a sense of permanency. Eivind, with his low-stakes life, also doesn't want children. But that's when she becomes pregnant. It's really using a child as a counter. I mean, the movie could have easily steered the story to one about abortion and I'm glad it didn't. Because what the child does for Julie is the idea that she can't continue doing what she's doing. That photography job is the one she wants for the rest of her life, despite the fact that it might be the (pun intended) least flashy. It's not her changing her mind about the value of children. It's viewing Aksel's mortality as a reminder of her own mortality. Honestly, as much as this is a story about relationships and adultery, it's about growing up and realizing that life is about making choices. Sometimes they are going to be things planned and sometimes they are accidental.
And that's probably the role of the miscarriage. If she had the baby, which I kind of wish that she had, there would have been that element of being trapped as opposed to sticking with a decision. When she sees Eivind with his own kid, I had to immediately Google the read on that. My takeaway is that Eivind more enjoyed the notion of freedom than he did love Julie. Julie represented this free spirit that allowed him to get away with his own immature garbage. He was always going to settle down with a woman that he was meh about and he was always going to have a kid. But Julie's miscarriage means that she doesn't have to move on with her life. She chooses to move on with her life. She doesn't have a different career. Instead, she's steadfast. Part of this is the realization that she probably actually learned to love Aksel, despite his flaws. Perhaps it is the guilt of knowing that she left a perfectly good guy to have a dumb affair and that guy died. His death wouldn't have been her fault. But had she not had the affair, she would have been with Aksel when he discovered his diagnosis.
Yeah, I like the movie. It's not amazing amazing. But it is also the romantic story that I kind of like. It's weird and a bit gross at times. It's overly sexual, but it doesn't really need to be. I just dug the format and the story was great.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.