I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had moments where we’ve had doubts about various parts of our own lives. Are we in the right job, with the right person, in the right house, or even being the right version of ourselves? Julie (Renate Reinsve), the main character in director Joachim Trier’s latest film, is effectively a living representation of those feelings. From the first moment we meet her, seeing her quickly drift from college major to college major and from friend group to friend group while never finding real satisfaction, she awakens at least a small part of the restless, questioning spirit in us all.
After reinventing herself as a photographer she meets Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), an underground comic artist, and much to her own surprise finds herself falling in love and then moving in with him. She has a slightly strained relationship with his family and friends however, as they all have children already, something Aksel would also like but the 10+ year younger Julie does not yet feel ready for. She finds some success after publishing an article about sex in the era of #MeToo online, and Aksel’s fame continues to rise as he abandons the immature and raunchy work of his early career and begins publishing more serious and artistic fare. After leaving a launch party for his latest book early, Julie finds herself again questioning her own happiness. She winds up crashing a wedding party where she meets Eivind (Herbert Nordrum) and the two spend the night flirtatiously dancing up to the line of cheating on their respective partners, only to discover they are unable to stop thinking about each other afterwards.
While it’s easy to see how some of Julie’s behavior could be seen as irksome at best and narcissistic at worst, Renata Reinsve imbues her with such charm that’s it’s hard not to love her anyway. Trier’s script, co-written with Eskil Vogt, breaks up about 4 years of her life into what amounts to a series of vignettes covering key moments of her journey towards self-discovery and is filled with moments memorable for their humor, heart, and depth. This is one of his strongest efforts as a director, balancing tinges of Amélie-like whimsy with beautifully framed reality. The movie is a perfect encapsulation of what it feels like to find oneself in an era of social-media induced self-examination and comparison to our peers, that ultimately reminds us that questioning our lives or wanting a change can be okay even if we’re otherwise happy, and that it doesn’t make you the worst person in the world. ★★★★★
RATED r for sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use, and some language.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor