Ian Thomas Malone

Monthly Archive: January 2022

Wednesday

26

January 2022

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Sundance Review: Blood

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Grief is a challenging subject to depict on film. The confines of a feature-length runtime can rarely capture the grating, all-encompassing dread that feels like it can go on forever. Films cannot go on forever, a notion that the movie Blood seems desperate to challenge.

Chloe (Carla Juri) is a recently widowed photographer living in Japan for a job. An old friend Toshi (Takashi Ueno), a musician, offers a quiet of companionship as Chloe slowly works her way through her grief. Despite the language barrier, Chloe finds connections in her growing community, often through a dance class or conversations with friends, even when the whole party can’t necessarily understand every word.

Director Bradley Rust Gray marches to the beat of his own drum through the narrative, loose strands of plot that only loosely come together to form a cohesive story. The slice-of-life format has a few plot lines throughout the 111-minute runtime, but Gray is mostly concerned with the quiet moments in Chloe’s journey. Life doesn’t fit neatly into boxes.

Blood is singularly focused in its purpose. Gray’s style is bound to rub people the wrong way, but there is plenty of beauty in his confident work. In some cases, he’s a bit overconfident, particularly toward the third act, which revisits many of his earlier themes without bringing anything new to the table.

There are several points where it’s easy to get frustrated by the glacier-slow pacing dragged out by an indulgent runtime. Blood is often quite boring. When you’re trying to move on in life, sometimes boring is just what you need.

It’s not perfectly true to say that Gray’s ends justify the means. The film should definitely cut at least fifteen minutes to fix the pacing issues, but the drawn-out sequences do enhance the special moments, capturing the subtle power of recovery in action or the power of human nature to connect in spite of whatever barriers stand in the way. There’s no formula to grief, certainly no a-ha moment where all the pain goes away.

There is, however, a day where things feel better than the last. Gray’s narrative understands that simple truth. Blood isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s a beautifully shot film that shines with its themes. Juri and Ueno are so sweet together, with an effortless sense of chemistry. The film isn’t the easiest experience in the world, but the performances and the cinematography serve the themes in such a way that makes you glad you put in the effort to sit through it.

Tuesday

25

January 2022

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Sundance Review: Am I OK?

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Thirty used to represent some kind of milestone, however arbitrary, for the time in life when you’re sort of supposed to have your affairs mildly figured out, least in theory. The real world doesn’t really work that way. There’s no timer that starts buzzing if you find yourself growing old without a semblance of stability. The film Am I Ok? spends its runtime floating around this orbit, trying to make sense of a world that never has any easy answers.

Lucy (Dakota Johnson) works as a receptionist at a spa, a thirty-two-year-old who approaches life with the cautious reservation of someone just out of college. Lucy struggles to open up to anyone other than her best friend Jane (Sonoya Mizuno), who’s got a steady boyfriend and a cozy marketing job. Jane tries to help Lucy break out of her shell, particularly with regard to her sexuality. Jane’s company offers her an enticing opportunity across the pond in her native London, threatening to upend the most important relationship in either woman’s life.

Most of the narrative focuses on Lucy’s sexual exploration. She bonds with a flirty coworker Britt (Kiersey Clemons), the kind of bubbly type A personality that makes for a perfect crush. Despite Johnson and Mizuno’s new-perfect chemistry, directors Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne keep the two separated for much of the narrative, perhaps a necessary decision for Lucy’s growth that unfortunately blunts a bit of the film’s abundant charm.

LGBTQ audiences deserve material that advances our storytelling beyond the rudimentary mechanics of coming out narratives, which have been grossly over-represented in film. It’s not completely fair to label Am I OK? as a coming-out film, belonging more to the broader coming-of-age genre. From a plot perspective, Notaro and Allynne offer up little to distinguish their film from countless other quirky indie stories we’ve all seen before.

Johnson ensures that whatever Am I OK? lacks in originality is made up for with the film’s abundant heart. Notaro and Allyne approach their story with such love and care that the breezy 86-minute runtime flies by. This film is not destined to blow many people away, but it’s bound to charm its audience through its rock-solid execution.

Notaro is one of the most gifted minds currently crafting comedy, a thoughtful, welcoming voice in this often-jaded modern landscape. The writing in Am I OK? lacks any real substantive on what it means to rediscover your sexuality in your thirties, a shame considering the talent behind the camera. Perhaps fitting given its title, the film never really strives to be more than just okay. A charming experience, if not a bit of a shame.

Tuesday

25

January 2022

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Sundance Review: Palm Trees and Power Lines

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It can be really easy to look at a toxic relationship, one of your own or maybe a friend’s, in hindsight and wonder how the hell any of that mess came to exist in the first place. The world is full of manipulative men with keen understandings of the mechanics of grooming. The film Palm Trees and Power Lines takes its audience on a step-by-step journey through these ugly, all-too-common scenarios.

Lea (Lily McInerny) is a quiet seventeen-year-old living in a boring coastal town in Southern California. The weather is great, leaving tanning and swimming as the sole bits of respite from the anxieties that often define one’s teenage years. Lea’s friend group is pretty unspectacular, especially the boys, who can’t even make it through a diner meal without reminding the world of their glaring immaturity.

One night, after being stuck with the diner tab after the boys ran out, Lea meets Tom (Jonathan Tucker), who offers her a ride home. Despite being double her age, Tom takes an interest in Lea, a courtship full of predictable red flags. The inherent creepiness of the situation never quite disappears from the screen, but Tom is charming enough to kind of set himself apart in a town with literally nothing else to offer.

Director Jamie Dack focuses her narrative on the banality of evil. Tom is a quiet sort of monster, a kind face that masks a graduate degree in gaslighting. Tucker pours his heart and soul into the role, keeping an undercurrent of tension flowing through Dack’s glacier-paced film.

Making her feature film debut, McInerny delivers a powerfully reserved performance that’s absolutely perfect for the narrative. Lea is an extremely frustrating character, full of bad decisions that make you want to yell at the TV, yet McInerny always sells the inherent plausibility of this train wreck of a relationship.

Dack seems to have set out with the singular goal of answering the age-old questions that always seem to pop up after these disasters unfold. “How could you not have known?” The 110-minute runtime uses practically every second to take the audience step-by-step into precisely how someone falls under the spell of an absolute monster.

Painfully effective in its messaging, Dack undercuts her feature with a bloated runtime that diminishes her leads’ incredible performances. Palm Trees and Power Lines accomplishes its goals in a way that eludes most features that set out to educate rather than entertain. It is a tremendous piece of filmmaking that would land a let better with twenty minutes shaved off its second half. Dack never quite knows when she’s already achieved her points.

In many ways, Palm Trees and Power Lines dares to be hated. Lea receives almost no character development, a dynamic hardly helped by a half-baked subplot involving her mother (Gretchen Mol). The narrative doesn’t exactly need to work hard to sell its seventeen-year-old grooming victim to the audience, but Dack’s feature is also a bit too bare-bones for its length, growing tedious when it should be moving.

Dack’s work finds itself belonging to the category of moving films you’d never want to watch a second time. The flawed execution can make it pretty hard to watch a first as well, but McInerny and Tucker find ample opportunities to reward the audience’s patience. Dack has such a firm grasp on her intentions, an impressive piece of filmmaking. Palm Trees and Power Lines won’t be for everyone, but the arduous journey does come with its payoffs.

Monday

24

January 2022

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Sundance Review: Brian and Charles

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The worst part of feeling lonely is when you’re so eager to connect with people, only lacking the opportunities to find like-minded individuals. The pandemic has cut a lot of people from their social settings, a dynamic that’s bound to grate on anyone, regardless of how much they’d prefer for that not to be the case. Oddballs need their communities too.

The film Brian and Charles centers its narrative on a charming, eccentric man who’s probably lived alone too long for his own good in a remote village in Wales. Brian (David Earl) loves making inventions, weird semi-functional objects that brighten up life more than they necessarily improve anything. The pairing of a mannequin and a washing machine brings to life Brian’s greatest invention.

Charles (Chris Hayward) is an absolutely ridiculous robot, not believable in any sense of the word. He’s also quite endearing, a childlike innocence hiding behind a healthy layer of sarcasm. The perfect companion for Brian’s wide-eyed optimism, the two quickly become friends, united by a common sense of silliness in a world where’s that in quite short supply.

Based on the 2017 short of the same name, director Jim Archer takes a mostly hands-off approach, letting Earl and Hayward, who authored the screenplay together, have their absurdist fun. Earl gives such a welcoming lead performance that you can’t help but root for Brian as he appreciates the quiet joys in life.

The film absolutely nails how hard it is to be a weird person in a small community, a warm soul desperate to connect. Brimming with heart, Brian and Charles is a perfect feel-good comedy for this modern landscape where so many are bound to identify with the titular characters. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, but also scenes that simply leave you with a smile on your face.

While the film largely coasts on the relationship between Brian and Charles, there are a few subplots to help get the quiet narrative through its 90-minute runtime. Brian connects with Hazel (Louise Brealey), a similarly odd character in need of companionship. The film does a great job including Hazel into the mix without losing any of the comedic timing between the main duo.

Where the film falls a bit short is in its third act. Forced to inject some drama into the equation, local bully Eddie (Jamie Michie) and his similarly tedious daughters give Brian a hard time. While Archer sticks the landing eventually, the entire conflict feels a bit forced, scraping a bit of individuality off of the otherwise quirky comedy.

Brian and Charles is a confident film that wears its heart on its sleeve. Brian has a lot of depth as a character, a lonely soul who would probably be happier elsewhere if his soul could bear the thought of leaving home. Backed by the absurdity of Hayward’s wild performance, Archer’s work is welcoming to those desperately looking for something wholesome to brighten up their day.

Monday

24

January 2022

2

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Sundance Review: Sharp Stick

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Sexual liberation is a difficult nut to crack. The world is full of repression, judgment, and plenty of people with bad intentions. It’s tough enough to muster the courage to even want to figure out who you are as a sexual being without the avalanche of obstacles life never stops throwing at you.

Writer/director Lena Dunham spends most of Sharp Stick exploring the life of an intensely sexually repressed adult. Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth) is twenty-six, though her personality has a tendency to make her feel like a fourteen-year-old. She lives with her older sister Treina (Taylour Paige), an aspiring social media influencer, and mother Marilyn (Jennifer Jason Leigh), an aging hippy whose own free-love attitude certainly hasn’t rubbed off on her younger daughter.

Sarah Jo endured a radical hysterectomy when she was fifteen, leaving stomach scars that make her quite self-conscious. The procedure left her with conflicted feelings toward her sexuality, remaining a virgin. Working as a caregiver for Heather (Lena Dunham) and Josh (Jon Bernthal), Sarah Jo decides one day that the laundry room is as good a place as any for her first time. The mild-mannered Josh initially rebuffs her, quickly succumbing to Sarah Jo’s wistful proposition.

Most of the film follows Sarah Jo’s efforts to learn more about sexuality, namely by trying every single activity under the sun. Bordering on sex addiction, her newfound hobby does little to diminish her otherwise innocent and naïve demeanor. Porn in particular provides an outlet for discovery that would be hard to find with married men or random bar patrons, finding a suitable muse in Vance Leroy (Scott Speedman).

Dunham doesn’t devote a lot of screen time toward developing her protagonist as a character, but Froseth delivers a welcoming performance that makes Sarah interesting enough to follow. The script is a disaster, full of pseudo-intellectual nonsense interlaced with Dunham’s penchant for shock value. The cringy dialogue leaves most of the actors with nothing to work with. Speedman is the only character who really hits a home run with Dunham’s writing.

The film is thematically all over the place, an 86-minute runtime that’s far too brief to really explore any of the many ideas on Dunham’s mind. There is some interesting commentary on the importance of self-exploration and body positivity, but the fleeting sincerity is often suffocated by scenes that don’t really add anything to the narrative. The story would probably work better as a limited series, but the characters aren’t really compelling enough to take on expanded arcs.

Sharp Stick has pieces of a good movie, the strong cast let down by a lackluster screenplay. Dunham’s technical work behind the camera has substantially improved in the twelve years since her last film. Froseth was the perfect actor for this film, but she just wasn’t given enough support to craft a satisfying experience.

Sunday

23

January 2022

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Sundance Review: Dual

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Advances in technology may not necessarily allow humanity to cheat death, but maybe help mitigate the circumstances. Cloning strikes at the heart of the nature vs. nurture debate, a person with identical genetic makeup, begging the question of when DNA stops and when individuality begins. The film Dual sorts of centers its narrative around these kinds of themes, never quite sure of what it wants to say.

Sarah (Karen Gillan) is a young woman with a seemingly terminal illness. Set in a future-lite world where cloning is a relatively affordable mass-market commodity, Sarah is supposed to treat her replacement self as a sort of understudy for her remaining days alive in order to make a relatively seamless transition. The clone (also played by Gillan) is supposed to learn what Sarah likes so that she can provide comfort to her loved ones once she dies.

Trouble is, Sarah’s illness goes into remission. Clone Sarah quickly takes on a personality of her own, becoming the preferred Sarah in the eyes of her mother (Maija Paunio) and partner Peter (Beulah Koale). While clones are supposed to be decommissioned in the event of their source material’s survival, the U.S. government apparently ratified the 28th Amendment giving clones the right to opt to challenge their originals to a trial-by-combat style duel on a football field to remain alive.

Director Riley Stearns’ third feature bears the marking of his previous films, namely drab aesthetics and dry, deadpan dialogue. Gillan is a perfect match for Stearns, able to bring both Sarahs to life in the sort of lifeless fashion that has become his trademark. There’s a novelty aspect to Dual’s worldbuilding that works really well, for a while at least.

Despite Gillan’s best efforts, Dual perpetually feels like a half-baked production, a script that gives its cast little to chew on. Sarah is a painfully underdeveloped character, apathetic to such an extent that you can’t help but wonder why she’d even go through the effort of cloning herself at all. That’s not a question that Stearns necessarily needed to answer, but the characters aren’t interesting enough to cover up the broader questions bound to be on the audience’s mind.

There is some charm in Stearns’ minimalist world-building, an uncommon atheistic for a sci-fi premise. One can forgive an intimate indie film for not wanting to deal with the broader geopolitics of cloning. Suspension of disbelief can certainly get the audience through the absolutely clownish idea that America would ever ratify an amendment sanctioning trial by combat for everyday citizens.

The film largely ignores the subject of the morality of the duel, a dynamic that works until a scene in the third act where Sarah suddenly confronts the brutal nature of taking a life, as if she’s just pondering this concept for the first time. In an America that’s divided on every single political issue under the sun, it’s absolutely outlandish that there’s no group around fighting like hell to stop this barbaric sense of justice. This wouldn’t be a problem if Stearns had simply chosen to leave morality out of the equation entirely, allowing his feature to exist in the alternate-America he crafted. Instead, he just looks sloppy for his brief feint toward an idea bound to be on plenty of his audience’s minds.

Some of the film’s best sequences feature original Sarah training with her dueling coach Trent (Aaron Paul), doing their best to transform her into a killer. Stearns struggles to tie his whole feature together in a way that doesn’t leave Sarah and Trent’s time together feeling like charming filler. The obvious comparisons to work displayed in his last feature The Art of Self-Defense hardly helps the situation either.

Dual is never boring across its 94-minute runtime, but the end result leaves a pretty empty experience. Stearns is clearly more concerned with exploring themes than providing answers, but he doesn’t do a good job showing his work to the audience. It’s hard to walk away from this one not feeling disappointed for what might have been if the script had spent a bit more time on the drawing board.

Sunday

23

January 2022

0

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Sundance Review: Call Jane

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Period dramas strive to transport their audiences back in time to bygone eras, often involving issues that our society has thankfully put behind us. Set in 1968, Call Jane focuses on a group of women who worked to provide safe abortion access in the years before Roe W. Wade codified a woman’s fundamental right to choose. More than fifty years later, with the current makeup of the Supreme Court, one can’t help but be reminded of just how close our nation is to repeating the mistakes of the past.

The film centers on Joy (Elizabeth Banks), a happy wife with a cozy suburban life. Joy and her husband Will (Chris Messina) are excited to welcome a new baby into their family, until a medical emergency complicates the pregnancy. The hospital medical board quickly dismisses the idea of an abortion, disregarding Joy’s safety, and the agency she deserves over her own body. A fruitless trip to a shady backroom abortionist leads her to a flier for a group, suggesting they could “call Jane” for help with their unwanted pregnancies.

Led by Virginia (Sigourney Weaver), the Janes are doing their best to help women under quite constrained circumstances. Their abortionist Dean (Cory Michael Smith) overcharges for his services, the mob taking a piece of the cut to squelch any potential police interest. The bulk of the narrative focuses on the relationship between Joy and Virginia, two very different women united by a shared devotion to the cause.

Director Phyllis Nagy does a fabulous job balancing Joy’s story with an exploration of the era’s complex politics. The Janes are an imperfect group, initially largely limiting their services to those able to pay Dean’s expensive rates. Privilege plays an undeniable role, an element that Nagy never tries to sweep under the rug, even if a couple of sequences come out a bit heavy-handed. The cinematography handles the anxious intimacy of the actual procedure with immense grace.

The acting is pretty top-notch across the board. Banks delivers a commanding, generous lead performance that really makes Joy feel less like the main character than someone serving a movement bigger than themselves. Her chemistry with Weaver hits at the nuances of grassroots activism, where differing perspectives have to coexist to survive, often casting aside pleasantries in the process.

Nagy has a keen awareness that’s she not really directing a period drama in the truest sense of the word. This isn’t a days-gone-by-type story, but one that remains vitally important in America. The script manages to speak to contemporary issues without sacrificing its late 60s aesthetic. It’s a tough tightrope to walk, but one that Call Jane handles quite well.

The film also deserves a lot of credit for not losing sight of the importance of putting forth an engaging narrative that can entertain its audience while serving its broader objective of bringing attention to the need for safe abortion access. Not all movies need to be enjoyable to move their viewers, but Call Jane repeatedly works its charm. It’s not the easiest film to watch in the world at times, but Nagy’s cast and crew have put forth an effort brimming with obvious love.

Saturday

22

January 2022

0

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Sundance Review: Fresh

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The horror genre faces an increasingly uphill battle to shock and disgust their eager audiences in a world that’s becoming quite desensitized to such material. Something as heinous as cannibalism reached a beloved perch in pop culture lore more than thirty years ago. Occupying a similar space Fresh carves a niche amidst well-trodden territory.

Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) has had enough of online dating. Who hasn’t? A chance grocery store encounter leads to some flirting over grapes, the smooth Steve (Sebastian Stan) capable of igniting sparks in the produce section. Steve’s shunning of technology and his pedigree as a doctor are quite alluring for Noa, who takes him up on a romantic getaway early in their relationship. Steve’s house is in the middle of nowhere with bad cell reception, cutting her off from Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs), her best friend and surrogate family member.

Director Mimi Cave makes a quick impression on her audience, boldly displaying the opening credits about a half-hour into the film, signaling its pivot from rom-com to horror. Not only is Steve not the pleasant grape-loving sweetheart, but he’s an artisanal butcher of human flesh, with a house full of women waiting to be chopped up on behalf of his clients. The whole dynamic is almost enough to make you want to reactivate your Tinder account to roll the dice on obnoxious hipsters named Chad.

While most of the film is told from Noa’s point of view, Steve is really the X factor that sells Fresh. Stan is clearly having the time of his life with Cave’s slick material, powering the narrative through its bloated runtime. Edgar-Jones brings an important sense of intrigue to Noa that keeps the protagonist interesting as she navigates plenty of genre tropes, most vitally doing her best to ensure that the audience doesn’t fall for Steve like they might for Hannibal Lecter.

Fresh does have a bit of trouble keeping things fresh over its 116-runtime, on the longer side for a horror film. There are a few sequences a bit after the hour mark that feel more than a bit unnecessary. Gibbs brings a lot of depth to Mollie, but Cave isn’t particularly interested in moving the spotlight off of Stan or Edgar-Jones for very long, giving the impression that Mollie’s subplot spent some time on the chopping block.

Fitting given its title, Cave does introduce some fascinating perspectives on the allure of human flesh, with luscious cinematography in the styling of intricate food blogs. At times, there’s almost too much beauty to be grossed out, a fitting dynamic for a horror film. The narrative occasionally does fall into formulaic genre traps, but it’s hard not to enjoy spending time in Cave’s world.

Saturday

22

January 2022

0

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Sundance Review: After Yang

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Technology is slowly moving out of the realm of the impersonal. The endless data collection that was welcomed by the dawn of smartphones and social media will gradually produce updates to AI like Siri and Alexa that feel like they understand who we are. The idea of what it means to be human will naturally be affected by the ability to replicate the experience, or produce a convincing facsimile.

In a distant future where cloning and adoption are the predominant methods for making a family, Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith) strive to ensure that their daughter Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja) remains connected to her Chinese roots. They purchase a lifelike robot Yang (Justin H. Min), part of a line developed to teach Chinese history, in order to give Mika a “big brother” of sorts. The four make for quite the loving family, until malfunctions take Yang out of commission.

Much of director Kogonda’s narrative focuses on the efforts of Jake to repair Yang, fighting an uphill battle against a corporation that wants to replace him instead, allowing them to harvest his memories. While his efforts fall flat, Jake is left with a cube containing the essence of Yang’s experiences and consciousness. As Jake learns more about Yang’s “life,” particularly his secret friendship with Ada (Haley Lu Richardson), he comes to understand just how much more this seemingly household appliance had to offer the world than simple trivia.

The combination of Farrell’s conflicted grief and Kogonda’s carefully crafted aesthetic powers After Yang through familiar genre tropes. There’s much to appreciate in the way that Jake earnestly engages with the world, sometimes out of his own lust to uncover the meaning of life and at other times simply for the love of his daughter. Kogonda doesn’t show too many of his cards with regard to his vision of the future, but it’s neither overly nihilistic nor oblivious of the present’s current trajectory.

There are plenty of scenes where After Yang displays a keen grasp on the pulse of its philosophical intentions, but also several meandering sequences that make the same points about the nature of memory. The film is a beautiful yet somewhat overly simplistic entry in the broader sci-fi genre. As Kyra, Turner-Smith feels a bit wasted in a predictable supporting role.

The 101-minute runtime hardly feels well-utilized, but there’s enough going on in After Yang to justify the experience. Kogonda crafted such a beautiful world, but didn’t supply enough material for his eager cast to work with. Farrell’s predictably solid lead performance isn’t enough to shake the sense that this film should’ve landed with more of a thump than a thud.

Saturday

22

January 2022

0

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Sundance Review: The Worst Person in the World

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Turning thirty carries a certain natural feeling that one should have their life sorted out, or anxiety at having not done so by that arbitrary milestone. Adulthood lacks the distinct markers for what constitutes a grownup that we can perceive as children. The recipe for a fulfilling existence is as elusive as the quest for the meaning of life itself.

The film The Worst Person in the World (original Norwegian title Verdens verste menneske) centers its narrative on a woman who’s not so much searching for purpose as she is trying to avoid the wrong destination. Julie (Renate Reinsve) begins the story as a medical student, only to pivot toward psychology, photography, and writing over the course of the film. Her romantic life follows a similar chaotic pattern, falling for a successful comic artist Askel (Anders Danielsen Lie) while on a date with another man.

Askel brings stability to Julie’s life right as she approaches her thirtieth birthday. Fifteen years her senior, his ambitions to start a family like many of his friends stirs a fire in Julie. After leaving Askel’s book launch party early, Julie spontaneously decides to crash a party where she has an emotional variant of a one-night stand with Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), dissatisfied with the trajectory of her life thus far.

Director Joachim Trier divides his film into twelve chapters, plus a prologue and epilogue, giving the narrative the feel of a novel while also firmly operating under a traditional three-act structure. The fairly straightforward plot is greatly enhanced by the chapters, allowing space to explore Julie as a character without feeling obligated to further the story. Trier repeatedly shows off his technical skills as a director with elaborate sequences visualizing Julie’s emotions.

As the film’s title suggests, Julie is not a particularly likable character, nor is she designed to be. Reinsve delivers such an expressive performance that you get behind Julie as a protagonist, even if there’s often more sympathy for the film’s other characters who are caught in her orbit. Relationships require an intricate balance so that one partner doesn’t feel like they’re a supporting player in someone else’s grand adventure. One can grow frustrated toward Julie while understanding the motives behind her indecision.

Trier occasionally explores broader contemporary issues such as the #MeToo movement and our overarching obsession with screens. The film doesn’t try to put forth a generic rallying cry to “live in the moment,” understanding that the moment itself is an arbitrary construct. Life doesn’t wait for you to get your act together. Each new day brings us all along with it, until the day that it doesn’t.

The film does hit a few snags in its third act, meandering a bit too long for its 121-minute runtime. While Askel receives a substantive supporting arc, Trier is less sure what to do with Eivind, left with what feels like a bit of a truncated story that might have been better suited for a miniseries rather than a feature. The slice of life narrative manages to wrap itself up in a way that doesn’t feel arbitrary while also rewarding the audience for the time spent with Julie’s life.

Few films tackle the messy nature of growing up with such eloquence. Reinsve throws a lifeline to anyone in their thirties wondering what the hell is going on. The Worst Person in the World isn’t here to solve the meaning of life, but the narrative manages to provide comfort amidst all the uncertainty that comprise our collective existence.