The Norwegian director Joachim Trier has been around the world with his latest film The World's Worst Man, which has now finally landed in Danish cinemas after a year of standing ovations in Cannes, two Oscar nominations and already great success on the big screen.
'The World's Worst Man' is about the soon-to-be 30-year-old Julie, who has not yet figured out what she wants or who she wants to be. In the role of Julie is seen Renate Reinsve, who won the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role at last year's Cannes Film Festival, while also receiving a BAFTA nomination for her performance.
The comedy-drama is a portrait of the eventful adult life of the late 20s and its crossroads, where great and defining choices about the course of the future must be made.
We met Joachim Trier to talk about his cinematic film, which is largely based on his own experiences and observations. Therefore, 'The World's Worst Man' has also become a work with a high possibility of resonance in the audience.
Reviewer for Børsen, Michael Solgaard, writes, among other things, that "there is so much identification in 'The World's Worst Man' that most men and women between the ages of 20 and 60 in Scandinavia's big cities can see themselves in the main characters."
When we inquired into the secret behind making films that resonate in other human beings, Trier emphasized the personal angle.
- It's a strange mix of having to find characters like me and Eskil [Vogt, ed.] That I write with, and the actors can also feel are us - and at the same time not us. It must also be something culture-specific. The one that mixes of observing and trying to be accurate and exploring a culture or a generation or a character.
- At the same time, one must mentally understand their character and what they are going through. For example, I also turned 30 several years ago and have been unsure of love and all that stuff. But at the same time, I can not just transfer and make a story about it to Julie - so Julie will have to be someone else.
- I've known some Julie's in my life and I have a huge love for that character. I think it's a bold character full of enthusiasm and curiosity and a lot of dreams and a giant cloud over his head of expectations. At the same time, she has the one who travels to recognize that time is limited. You can not have it all.
- I have talked to a lot of friends over the years about the feeling that we are adults, but we do not feel adults. Are we the adults now?
- I talked to Renate about what is at the age of Julie, and which has also meant a lot to the film. The character is written for her. We can come back to that.
- She kind of said that it's about turning 30, and then you go out to a bar, and then there are some younger people who talk about "you and your generation". What? Are we not the same generation? It takes time to realize that time passes.
- I have also tried to find some humor in that. It should not only be sad. The film is serious, but there must be something funny about it.
As I said, Renate Reinsve has received a lot of recognition for her role as Julie, and of course we had to return to Trier's comment that the character was written for her.
- Yes! Renate had one reply in 'Oslo, 31 August'. We had to film some morning scenes over several mornings to be able to grab the light, which went up a bit each day to make a sequence of it. And then Renate only had one line, but she was on the set for 7-8 days.
- And I was just thinking, "fuck how gifted she is, how cool is that." I felt so comfortable with her on set. She never did anything wrong, and it was always interesting what she did in the background of these scenes.
- Then I thought she would probably get some giant role in a little while. Then 10 years passed. No one gave her a starring role. She played small roles that annoyed me sometimes. The main character's male girlfriend is with another girl who is a threat. It was only these different, weird characters that I did not feel gave her talent the respect she deserves.
- So I just said, okay, we're writing the movie for Renate. And then she won in Cannes. And I was just like that, YES, now she's flying out there with a lot of offers from Hollywood and everything. And she will probably have to make some wise choices and choose some good roles, because she is very skilled in craftsmanship and does not just want to play "the pretty girl", it's boring.
- She should probably get some good roles. But I am super happy with our collaboration, she has meant a lot to the film. I just want to say that. It's very much Renate's film too.
Joachim Trier has written the scripts for all his films in collaboration with Eskil Vogt, whom he has known for years. When we asked about their work process, the answer is also that they are two people who know each other really well.
- It's super chaotic, we almost get embarrassed when we have to describe it. It's just two old friends from when we were teenagers who still meet in a room in the morning and sit from 9-17 and discuss for a year. And then we come out with a script at the end.
- In the beginning we just sit and discuss a mix of movies, what we like, what we've seen lately, what we like about movies right now. We geeks out on form-things and that character and that movie, and how they told it and stuff like that completely film-historical. "Why is no one making movies about this anymore?"
- And then we also talk about life. How it goes and what happens to people we know. That is what the material is. It's the mix of a formalistic curiosity about what's cool to see on the big screen, what do we want to show? What types of sequences would be fun to make? It's a very shapely, film-loving way of looking at it.
- It mixed with what we are trying to think about, why are there so many people who know about this and that and that? Which no one makes stories about. The despair that we see around us, where people hardly dare to tell about the little things, because there is war in the world - so why should my love worries mean anything?
- And at the same time say that we should not also acknowledge that there is a lot of drama going on in this after all not infinitely long life we have, which is about attachment, hard choices in relation to what we should spend our time on career-wise, pressure of expectations, the whole idea of identity, which in our time we just have to know what it is we represent and show it.
- And then we still feel that it's such a fucking mystery; who am I really? It's not something we get smart about.
- Slowly, these stories come about characters, which we try to find the vulnerability in, because then we start to become curious about them.
Movies must be seen in the cinema. And Trier also had some specific reasons why this is precisely the case with 'The World's Worst Man'.
- [The Cinema, ed.] Is a unique place to get close to the characters. And I'm a character storyteller.
- The intimacy, the closeness to these people, their feelings. I really spent time making something that is a romantic movie. Which has great pictures and almost like some musical-like sequences. We have a lot of such some funny comedy sequences that I think it's cool to sit in a movie theater and laugh at together.
- But also the serious moments. Proximity to the characters. We can not get as close to people in art as when we see the big face in front of us. And we have thought about that a lot. How do we get under the skin of these characters? And I think the cinema room is a completely unique opportunity for that.
The talk then fell on Trier's best cinema experiences ever, and here he told about his nerve-wracking trip to Cannes with 'The World's Worst Man', which received a 9-minute standing ovation after the premiere.
- When I'm in the final stages of editing, I usually show my film to a full cinema hall sometimes, to sit with people, and they fill out some forms about their experience, and what they understand and do not understand. Then I sit and feel the emotions in the hall. And then I can just feel, uh that sequence needs to be shortened or it needs to get longer. You sit and regulate a little, because you can feel the atmosphere in the room.
- This movie was finished during the pandemic, so I was not allowed to gather more than 5 people. So I did not get that experience. And then we are suddenly invited to Cannes.
- We go up the red carpet with the actors. Renate and Herbert are there for the first time, and wow, it's huge and fun, and there are walls with photographers, 2300 people sitting in there in tuxedos and waiting, and then I just got this feeling here ... SHIT! This is the first time I'll be watching this movie with the audience. I was SO nervous. I was hardly present in it.
- Then there was someone who filmed the subsequent reaction. They spoke it to 9 minutes of standing ovation. And after a few minutes, I just started crying. We all stood and tooted. It meant so much to us. We came out of that lonely rock and sound mix, and the actors had just been sitting at home, and then all of a sudden we're standing there with all these people. It was hugely powerful. So it was a great cinema experience.
'The World's Worst Man' can be seen in cinemas now.