Wednesday, March 2, 2022

The Worst Person in the World

When you emerge from the third film of Joachim Trier’s Oslo TrilogyThe Worst Person in the World, everyone filing out seems like someone you know—which isn’t very hard these days since there are still so few people in theaters. The Worst Person in the World sounds a little like The Man Without Qualities. In this case, the title refers the main character Julie (Renate Reinsve) who allows herself (sometimes selfishly) to unreservedly feel and act on those feelings. And the feeling that you and your new found soul mates share, upon exiting, is that the director is telling your story, even when it’s not really your story. It’s the cozy empathy of The Three Sisters in which Chekhov makes you feel that you could have written the play (a kind of appropriation that must create some degree of discomfort in great artists who have this talent). The characters talk about erectile dysfunction, morning wood and use the term "mansplain." “I think sex is best when the dick isn’t that hard” says the 30 something Julie who has written an essay “Oral Sex in the Age of #MeToo” which asks the question “can you be a feminist and still enjoy being mouthfucked?’ Her boyfriend the graphic novelist Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie) calls it “intellectual Viagra.” Ambushed by a pair of PCers on a talk show, he futilely tries to explain “the comic book version of me might call you a whore but I don’t think that.” All the signposts of the present are there, the culture wars, the sex wars (“I don’t like everything to happen on your terms,” Julie tells Aksel who wants to keep up with the Joneses by having a baby). Julie vents her own dissatisfaction to boyfriend #2, Elvind, when she says “you don’t mind serving coffee until you’re 50, but I want more.” Their first moment of intimacy btw is not sex, but going to the bathroom in front of each other. Been there, done that? In fairytales, the prince supplies the magic slipper. In Trier’s version of modernist dysphoria, the shoe and the foot are always out of sync. The film is filled with clever devices. The story is told in twelve chapters and also intermittently applies third person narrative. There's a disconcerting psychedelic fantasy sequence and another one in which the lead moves through a landscape of freeze-framed figures. “I don’t want to be a memory for you,” Aksel cries, in the film's fraught finale. “I don’t want to be a voice in your head. I don’t want to live through my art.” Baby boomers may recall Jill Clayburgh’s in Paul Mazursky’s An Unmarried Woman when they encounter Reinsve’s iconic performance.

Read "The Final Solution: Love Story" by Francis Levy,  TheScreamingPope

and watch the animation of Erotomania

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