Julie (Renate Reinsve), an immature Norwegian millennial, hardly lives up to the movie’s title, but she can frequently seem “not good”, as Lou Reed once described a muse. Vapid and prone to “flake out every six months”, Julie even in her late twenties is unprepared for the demands of adulthood and wastes her time wondering, for example, “Can you be a feminist and still enjoy being mouth-fucked?” “Sometimes, I just want to feel things,” she defends her lack of commitment. Following Julie’s relationships with comic book artist Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie) and café server Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), The Worst Person in the World is an effective cautionary tale for those who think they have forever to begin taking life seriously.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Worst Person in the World is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Multiculturalist. Immigrants appear fully integrated into an orderly multiethnic Norwegian society.

Anti-drug. Julie hallucinates under the influence of mushrooms, makes a fool of herself, and wakes up with menstrual blood smeared on her cheeks, and Eivind’s pretentious girlfriend Sunniva (Maria Grazia di Meo) participates in a psychedelic spiritual rite in which initiates take “mind-expanding substances” and vomit.

Anti-feminist. Julie comes across as shallow and merely imitative in complaining about “mansplaining”, and a pair of feminist talk show hosts appear as humorless exemplars of cancel culture. Julie’s ridiculous idea of asserting herself as a woman, meanwhile, is urinating and farting in front of a man or flinging a used tampon at a vision of her unsupportive father. The film is not only critical of women, however, and offers examples of men failing in their masculine roles.

Anti-woke. Parodying bourgeois white self-hatred, Sunniva embodies the “sum of Western guilt” and enthusiastically embraces a “newfound identity” after taking a DNA test and discovering that she is “3.1% Sami”.

Green-skeptical, with climate hysteria serving as a pretext for browbeating Europeans (“As she became increasingly militant,” Sunniva “saw how climate change was hurting indigenous people”) and discouraging procreation (“Eivind didn’t want kids either. Climate researchers foresaw hard times for future generations. Overpopulation was the reason everything was falling apart”).

Natalist. In one of Julie’s self-centered fantasies, the world comes to a stop as she rushes between the figures frozen around her. What she ultimately learns, however, is that time waits for no one – certainly not women suckered into postponing motherhood so they can “feel things”. Julie resists older lover Aksel’s desire to form a family and eventually leaves him for the less demanding Eivind. “The saddest thing,” Aksel warns her, “is one day, you’ll want kids.” Later, as he is dying of cancer, Aksel ruminates on the emptiness of the Gen-X bugman’s existence: “I grew up in an age without Internet and mobile phones. […] The world that I knew has disappeared. For me it was all about going to stores. Record stores. […] Leaf through used comics […] I grew up in a time when culture was passed along through objects. They were interesting because we could live among them. We could pick them up. Hold them in our hands. Compare them. […] That’s all I have. I spent my life doing that. Collecting all that stuff, comics, books … And … I just continued, even when it stopped giving me the powerful emotions I felt in my early 20s. I continued anyway. And … now it’s all I have left. Knowledge and memories of stupid, futile things nobody cares about.” Having become pregnant by Eivind, Julie decides, “I’m glad I’m pregnant” – only to then have a miscarriage. After depriving Aksel of perhaps his last chance to become a father, Julie also breaks up with Eivind, who eventually forms a family with another woman. Julie, as the film’s epilogue last glimpses her, has achieved a degree of success as a photographer, but sits alone at a computer – one assumes, filled with regret.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.