I’ve been writing about “The Worst Person in the World,” a dramedy from Norway, since seeing it in December. It ranked No. 1 on my list of the best movies of 2021. It should have been nominated for the best picture, best actress and best director Oscars, but wasn’t, though it is up for best screenplay and best foreign-language film.
And now, finally, it’s playing on the Cape, at the Cape Cinema in Dennis and Waters Edge Cinema in Provincetown.
Directed by Joaquim Trier (“Oslo, August 31st”), “Worst Person” (R, 128 minutes) covers four years in the life of Julie (Renate Reinsve) as she goes from her 20s to her 30s and tries to sort out what she wants in life. Told in 12 chapters – think Jean-Luc Godard – with a prologue and an epilogue, it depicts key moments as Julie takes on and discards various career possibilities and lovers. Meanwhile, there are other life-altering decisions to make, such as whether she wants children.
Trier’s movie leaves us with more questions than answers. Is it possible to determine whether her decisions are right or wrong? Do her decisions make her a good or bad person? How do you draw the line on such things, or is it impossible?
Tough questions. Without beating us over the head with it, “Worst Person” shows us how life is a series of trade-offs. You make your decisions and live with them, which only leads to more decisions, more trade-offs. Do you follow your heart? Do you follow your passion? Do you follow some standard of morality? Do you wind up living with regret, or do you just go with the flow?
It’s no wonder “The Worst Person in the World” sticks with you, and makes you want to see it again. Meanwhile, Reinsve gives a truly great performance as she shows Julie navigating through this minefield of options. And Anders Danielsen Lie is outstanding as one of her romantic partners, a comic-book artist, 15 years older than Julie, whose most famous creation is a provocative critter named Bobcat.
Don’t miss this one. **** (out of four)
Also showing (somewhere)
Director Steven Soderbergh definitely goes all Hitchcock on us with his lean, mean look at pandemic life with the thriller “Kimi” (R, 89 minutes, on HBO Max). With strong visual elements of “Rear Window” and a Bernard Herrmann-type score that sounds right out of “Vertigo” or “Psycho” (without the screaming violins), “Kimi” also takes the familiar Hitchcockian theme of the innocent person on the run with this violent tale of corruption and surveillance. As for the surveillance, the film also, naturally, has a strong Orwellian influence, as it shows an evil Big Brother watching the person who is watching everyone else.
Zoe Kravitz plays Angela Childs, a tech worker who keeps track of when Kimi, a Siri or Alexa type of voice service, is unable to understand the commands of its users. Angela works from home, in part because of the pandemic, and in large part because she’s agoraphobic. The possibility of walking out her apartment door is a major challenge for her.
Angela then comes across a recording in which something really awful appears to have taken place. Sure enough, Angela is soon in danger.
There aren’t a lot of surprises here, if any. Plot twists aren’t what make “Kimi” interesting; it’s how Soderbergh and screenwriter David Koepp (“Jurassic Park”) capture the isolation and fear of human connection we’re living with in these pandemic-dominated times. And then there’s the whole phenomenon of data mining and other invasions of our privacy that have become so prevalent in our society. In some ways “Kimi” is a typical Hollywood thriller; in others, it’s an extreme version of life as we’re living it. ***
If you liked the British Hammer horror flicks from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, often starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and providing new takes on Dracula, Frankenstein and the like, you’ll probably want to check out “The Cursed” (R, 113 minutes, in theaters). It has the same kind of fog-shrouded atmosphere and all-around creepiness as it presents a werewolf tale featuring a gypsy curse, villagers plagued by nightmares that come true, and a hideous pair of teeth.
Written and directed by Sean Ellis (“Anthropoid”), the film is set in 19th-century France and begins with a ruthless land baron (Alistair Petrie) setting his thugs upon a group of Roma people who claim the baron is among those who have stolen their land. During the resulting slaughter (filmed from a distance to make the action all the more realistic and horrific), one of the Roma women puts a curse on her oppressors and their families. Werewolf mayhem ensues.
Starring Boyd Holbrook as a pathologist who comes to investigate and Kelly Reilly as the land baron’s wife, “The Cursed” gets points for creating the right mood of mysterious, supernatural dread, where you know something horrendous is about to occur at any moment. But the characters and story fail to be compelling, and it all feels familiar. You’re left wishing Lee or Cushing might pop up – which would be quite a surprise, given they’re both dead. **½
** Click here for Tim Miller’s previous movie columns for Cape Cod Wave **
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Tim Miller is a Cape-based member of the Boston Society of Film Critics. He and Tony Raine host “Tim ’n’ Tony’s Rock ’n’ Pop Show” from midnight to 2 a.m. Sunday nights/Monday mornings on WOMR (92.1-FM), WFMR (91.3-FM) and womr.org (archived shows at https://womr.org/schedule/broadcast-archive/). He also teaches film and journalism at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or follow him onTwitter @TimMillerCritic. Or you can ignore him completely.
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