Love Movie

The Worst Person in the World Women’s films under loneliness, death anxiety and fertility anxiety

With the aging of the population and the awakening of women’s consciousness, the issue of childbirth is increasingly becoming a global social hotspot. The brutal conflict between the social and self-expectations of motherhood and the risks of walking through a ghost’s gate alone has been the subject of much attention and discussion in domestic  and foreignproductions. The Nordic countries, which have always been at the forefront of social welfare and affirmative action in the world, have produced many good films on this subject in recent years, such as the Danish films “Love in Your Hand” and “Second Chance” and the Swedish film “Hotel” .

The Norwegian film “The Worst Person in the World,” which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival this year, gently blends the issue of childbirth into the timeless discussion of “life,” “death” and “love. A decidedly female film, The Worst Person in the World not only won the Best Actress Award at Cannes, but was also a strong contender for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.

Julie, the protagonist of “The Worst Person in the World,” is a typical Scandinavian woman: with higher education and social benefits at her fingertips, she is completely free to choose her profession, career, partner and life path. Freedom is her primary value, but this freedom brings with it a bit of confusion. Spontaneous as she was, she initially studied medicine, but stopped halfway because she was more interested in the human spirit than the human body. In a roundabout way, by the time she was 30, she was working as a clerk in a bookstore, with photography as a hobby. She also tried her hand at writing. Her boyfriend Aksel, a painter of some renown, was in his 40s and expecting a child. And this has become the focus of their conflict Aksel can’t say why he wants children, probably because all his friends have children and his life has stabilized for Julie, who is more than a decade older. Julie, on the other hand, is just the opposite. Julie couldn’t say why she didn’t want children, probably because she had a hunch that they would prevent her from being free. Julie also had a vague feeling that she could not fit comfortably into Axel’s family and career. While Axel enjoyed the flowers and applause, she left as if nothing had happened and slipped into a wedding party to get a drink, pretending to be a doctor and telling the older aunts that breastfeeding would produce mentally ill children ……

Also at this party, Julie and the second male Eivind, a stranger, played a game of pretend cheating: a pair of men and women with separate lovers on the verge of intimacy, frantically testing – drinking the same glass of wine, telling each other their deepest secrets, watching each other urinate …… and laughingly judging “is this cheating/not cheating”.

Evander is concerned about climate, environmental and ecological issues, and is ashamed of the existence of humans , and therefore does not want children. Finally, one day, Julie leaves Axel and runs to Evander. But a new divide is also surfacing ……

For Chinese audiences, Julie, a Nordic woman, offers a seductive projection and raises questions that we may face in the future. If the state of East Asian women in the layers of expectation is one of passivity, burnout and no escape, the question for women in the already highly egalitarian Nordic society is how to anchor themselves in the situation of “I exist alone in the world” after the confrontational relationship has been hidden, and thus develop direction, path and strength. The World’s Worst People

In “The Worst Person in the World,” this motivational question focuses on why, when a woman is no longer under the explicit bondage of religious or ritual traditions, nor the implicit bondage associated with power relations, when she has absolute autonomy over her body, sex, intimacy, and marriage, she is still disillusioned and needs to flee from one person to another at times.

This feeling of drifting, of having no one to turn to, is a reflection of the spiritual world of modern society: human relationships can begin and end at any time. The bonds that were once thought to be sacred and solemn are now disintegrating. How can a woman, who has lost these coordinates, define herself? As in the film’s best psychedelic mushroom sequence, Julie feels the ground beneath her feet slowly crumble and sink, and she finally drifts without a place to stand. In her hallucination, Julie sees herself as an old woman: her breast-feeding breasts sagging badly, her limbs protruding from her bones, and the wrinkles in her belly and hips drooping in layers of bloat.

After waking up, a fearful Julie draped in the blanket in the arms of Evander seeking solace. And such solace is, of course, temporary – Julie then realizes that Evander is not at all as appreciative of her work as Axel is. But it is clear that Axel is also not a permanent place to stay, because the freedom-loving Julie does not want to stop at any place at all.

Such a role could easily have been called “pretentious” and “made” if the actress hadn’t infected the audience with a surprising naivety and honesty in her performance. Despite this, many people in the Douban comment section have criticized it as a weak “feminist garden”, criticizing it for being beautiful and murderous, and for being mentally stuck at a child’s level, and even the heroine eventually becoming a photographer has been interpreted as taking pictures of her painter ex-boyfriend and being “attached” to the power of men. The power of male power.

This kind of argument is more interesting than the film itself. For it reflects not so much a fundamentalist cultural difference as a difference related to gender and the level of economic and social development: on this planet, while some women are striving for passive freedom, some are already exploring active freedom. The latter may seem absurd because it is too foreign to us. And even if such a search seems pretentious, weak, and headless, it is still precious and enlightening.

What’s more, such exploration is clearly rooted in reality. In today’s highly developed social media, distant places are not distant, and the lives of others can also inspire new vibrations in the local community. As in the case of the author himself:

When I lived in Denmark, my landlord was a Copenhagen city official. He told me that Christmas that year that he had been engaged to be married when he was young, but finally ran away for fear of losing his freedom. At that moment, his friends were celebrating Christmas with their families, and he was left alone with his elderly mother. He sighed that he had to bear the loneliness of today for the choices he made when he was young. He also told me that a number of career-oriented female subordinates in his department suddenly started to frantically want to get married and have children after they entered their forties. But getting married and having children is not something that happens overnight. At the moment of hearing these two events, I was really shocked – in the highly egalitarian Scandinavian society, women are faced with such a choice of fertility direction. This is something the author could not have imagined in her twenties.

There, fertility may no longer be governed by economic factors and power relations, but it is still linked to aging, death, loneliness, and the irreversibility of time – how much freedom do we really have in the face of our one-way lives? And the embarrassing dilemma of contradicting ourselves, jumping from side to side, and even punching ourselves in the face, is exactly what life is really like.

Thus, after “Oslo, August 31” and “Blindsight”, director Joachim Till successfully tapped into the death anxiety behind the fertility issue. And death anxiety is also a consistent theme in his work sequences – as time passes, the ink dries up, the paper rots, the human muscle dries up, and the artist’s creativity dries up. In this sense, all art carries some kind of trust toward eternity, but such a gaze toward eternity confirms the finiteness of life – the impossibility of eternity.

And so the end of art is also incomprehensible, and nowhere points to the day when I can only hiss that I want to live, just as at the end of the film, Axel sits in the car and tells Julie in pain, I really don’t want to show my vulnerability, but I really hurt so much that I can’t help it; I don’t want to be remembered in my work, I don’t want to be remembered by you as a memory, I want to live, I want to live with you, happy after.

And Julie surprisingly could not say a word. Death and life are also big. In front of death, the power of life, if not non-existent, is also minimal. Julie desperately seeks confirmation from Axel , as if expecting the birth of a baby to dissipate the shadow of death, only to miscarry after Axel’s death. –The popular narrative of “death followed by new life” in literature and film is ruthlessly interrupted by this film.

As you can imagine, the death of this child also announced the end of a “new chapter” for Julie and Evander. If most marriages are sustained by the lubricating effect of children, then it is not bad to be alone and wandering around? At the end of the film, Julie, who has become a photographer, discovers that one of her ex-boyfriends has gone to heaven and one has had a child with another woman. But she still has that innocent and lovely look.

The film ends with Julie’s loneliness. But being alone is not necessarily lonely. It may be self-sufficiency. Who says that female self-sufficiency is not a beautiful state?

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