‘The Worst Person In The World’ Ending, Explained: What Does The Last Scene Mean?


“The Worst Person in the World” is a Norwegian romantic drama film directed by Joachim Trier. It tells the story of Julie, a woman living in Oslo, as she tries to find different facets of her life through hurdles in love, profession, and self-realization. Centered around a character who is tremendously indecisive, impulsive, and who does not really know what to expect of her own self, “The Worst Person in the World” takes an interesting look at modern life at large and the 21st century individual in particular.

See More: ‘The Worst Person In The World’ Review: A Romance Drama About Life, Love, And Loss

‘The Worst Person In The World’ Plot Summary

The film begins with the introduction of Julie, who is briefly seen as a student of medicine before she suddenly comes to the realization that she is more interested in the human mind than the body. Changing her academic field to psychology, she then again reevaluates herself as someone very visual and now gets into photography. She is equally unsure and experimenting with her romantic life—she sleeps with her psychology professor, goes to a party with her boyfriend, and meets Aksel, a renowned comic artist in Oslo. While the two initially hesitate to take the casual fling any further, Julie, while leaving Aksel’s apartment, realizes how much she wants him, and the two start a relationship. Julie moves in with Aksel, and they then visit Aksel’s family house for a weekend, where they are joined by the rest of the family.

As they spend the days mostly around Aksel’s young nephew and niece, he brings up an interest in having a baby with Julie and starting their own family. Julie is put off by the idea and explains that she does not feel ready to be a mother just yet and is not sure when she might be. They return to the city and attend an event for the launch of Aksel’s new book, but Julie feels increasingly out of place there. She leaves to return home, and she walks through the streets with a self-questioning stance, notices a house party, and sneaks into it. As she goes around drinking and trying to have uninteresting conversations with others only to blend in, she introduces herself to Eivind, who takes an interest in her immediately. The two strike up a bond through the night and keep getting closer, but they also confess that they are in a relationship with someone they love.

But through their conversation and also with a growing physical proximity, they jokingly try to figure out how much proximity is allowed without it being called “cheating.” However, they do not cross the boundaries set by society (meaning they don’t cheat per se) and part the next morning with no intention of being in touch. Meanwhile, Julie has been searching for her profession and tries writing a piece that gets popularity and readership on Facebook after Aksel encourages her to post it. Her unhappy relationship with her father is presented as he fails to attend her birthday party, making excuses as always. The couple visited the father and indirectly learned that he had not gone because he had prioritized spending the day with his younger daughter from his second marriage. One day, while working at her new job as an attendant at a bookstore, Julie meets Eivind once again, who visits with his partner, Sunniva, but then also finds a little moment with Julie and asks her to meet him at his work at a café.

That evening, Aksel’s family comes over, and they discuss a film that is being made about Aksel’s comic-book character. Throughout the evening and that night, Julie finds herself completely lost, and possibly out of love with Aksel. The next morning, as she is about to tell Aksel, she turns on a switch that seems to freeze the entire world, and she is seen going on a date with Eivind and passionately falling in love with him as the world stays stuck in time. She then tells Aksel of her mental state (but hides the presence of Eivind in her life), breaks up with him, and leaves the apartment to look towards a new beginning with Eivind.

Julie, The Worst Person In The World?

Since the narrative follows the life and actions of Julie, the film initially seems to be holding Julie up as a character to be celebrated. She is very upfront and vocal about the things she believes in, particularly the rights of women and their right to express sexuality. She is not shy about exploring her own sexuality; a scene further down suggests her experimentation with orientation as well. Neither is she uncomfortable facing senior masculine figures who try to dismiss feminism and point out their habit of mansplaining. However, gradually, as the film moves forward, it becomes evident that although the film makes this side of Julie very strong, its main focus is perhaps on her tendency to flit from one thing to the next without thoughtful rumination.

It is her impulsive, confused, yet confident manner that ties her to generations that are growing up now, those beginning to grow old, those who keep shifting the course of their lives as Julie does. After moving in with Eivind, the two grow even closer over time, and Julie admits to feeling comfort and confidence with him. In the meantime, Aksel makes appearances on television for his works and the film that is being made about his character, and Julie watches one such interview where Aksel vehemently defends his works as art, even delving deep into political incorrectness and indecency. However, this seems to strike a chord in Julie the right way, and she seems to understand Aksel, maybe even relate to him to some extent, like she never could before. Sometime soon, she learns of Aksel’s pancreatic cancer and is evidently disturbed.

She also has a disagreement with Eivind, suggesting that he is unable to really understand her as a person. Having discovered that she is pregnant, Julie visits Aksel in the hospital and spends the day with him. The two seem to have the earlier bond intact as they discuss Julie’s pregnancy and Aksel’s illness. Despite her earlier unwillingness, she decides to keep the child and finally become a mother. Although the film directly mentions only Eivind feeling himself to be “the worst person in the world”, it is much more likely that Julie is being called so. There are strong charges in the tone at certain parts which do question whether Julie is playing around with the lives of others along with her own.

However, the film’s greatest success is the way in which it conveys the idea of a changed new age where an individual does have the right to walk away from any relationship, where they do not feel understood or loved, or for whatever reason really. Does it not then make them selfish for disrupting the lives of others? It definitely does, but then everyone is selfish when looked at from the other person’s perspective. This can be said for Aksel as well, and it is possible to call any of the three major characters the worst person in the world. But with the overall theme of the film, it is perhaps more plausible that no one can be called the worst person in the world because that is a very subjective brand to imprint upon a person.

The Worst Person In The World Review 2021 Film Julia with Aksel
Credits: Oslo PicturesMK2 Productions

‘The Worst Person In The World’ Ending Explained: What Do The Time-Freeze And The End Scene Mean?

The film has a nifty way of incorporating Julie’s indecisiveness into the form of the narrative itself. Although it uses this very little, it is effectively executed every time. First is the scene of time stopping and Julie going out to meet Eivind. The occurrence of this right as she is about to confess her wish to end the relationship with Aksel does suggest the dichotomy in her mind. The stopping of time for the entire world other than the two new lovers is, of course, symbolic and, in the literal sense, means that Julie decides not to say anything to her partner and instead goes out on a date with Eivind. It is only the next day, or some subsequent day (marked by her turning off the switch), that the world starts moving again, normalcy comes back to her mind, and she decides to finally tell Aksel.

Aksel has now passed away, Eivind is not in touch with Julie, and Julie now works as a still photographer on a film shoot. While working, she looks out the window and happens to see Eivind with the actress she was photographing, along with their baby. She is then seen to return to her apartment, where she stays alone; she sits down to edit the photographs she has taken, with no baby or partner of her own present around, and the end-credits roll. Julie is now a working professional who has finally found her passion and calling in life; seeing Eivind outside the window only makes her more reaffirmed of her choices and her own self. The film has now beautifully presented the growth of Julie from her indecisive nature to her confident self.

It is the misjudgments, the whimsicalness, the had-beens, and the strong decisions that make Julie who she is, and the film, with all its visuals and aesthetics, along with a fascinating performance from Renate Reinsve (which earned her the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival), connects her to the generation of these times, the generation that is close to or about to turn thirty, as Julie does in the film.

‘The Worst Person In The World” is a 2021 Romantic Drama film directed by Joachim Trier.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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