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In a Better World (2010)

Hævnen (original title)
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The lives of two Danish families cross each other, and an extraordinary but risky friendship comes into bud. But loneliness, frailty and sorrow lie in wait.

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(screenplay), (story) | 2 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 11 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Najeeb (as Will Johnson)
Eddy Kimani ...
Patient (as Eddie Kimani)
Emily Mulaya ...
Sygeplejerske
Gabriel Muli ...
Læge
June Waweru ...
Sygeplejerske
Mary Ndoku Mbai ...
Patient (as Mary Nduku Mbai)
Dynah Bereket ...
Gammel dame
...
Christian (as William Jøhnk Juel Nielsen)
...
Elsebeth Steentoft ...
Signe
Satu Helena Mikkelinen ...
Hanna
...
Eva
Simon Maagaard Holm ...
Sofus
Emil Nicolai Helms ...
Sofus' skolekammerat
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Storyline

Anton is a doctor who commutes between his home in an idyllic town in Denmark, and his work at an African refugee camp. In these two very different worlds, he and his family are faced with conflicts that lead them to difficult choices between revenge and forgiveness. Anton and his wife Marianne, who have two young sons, are separated and struggling with the possibility of divorce. Their older, ten-year-old son Elias is being bullied at school, until he is defended by Christian, a new boy who has just moved from London with his father, Claus. Christian's mother recently lost her battle with cancer, and Christian is greatly troubled by her death. Elias and Christian quickly form a strong bond, but when Christian involves Elias in a dangerous act of revenge with potentially tragic consequences, their friendship is tested and lives are put in danger. Ultimately, it is their parents who are left to help them come to terms with the complexity of human emotions, pain and empathy. Written by Sisse Graum Jørgensen, Producer

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent and disturbing content some involving preteens, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

26 August 2010 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

In a Better World  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$33,058 (USA) (1 April 2011)

Gross:

$1,007,908 (USA) (2 September 2011)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At 13:37 in the Blu-ray director's commentary, Susanne Bier notes that Elias' braces were Markus Rygaard's own braces, not filming props. Having the bullies call him "rat face" was devised after casting, reasoning that, were he bullied, it would be in part for the braces. See more »

Goofs

When Anton (Michael Persbrant) performs his first surgery he scratches his head/corrects the position of his mask after having put on sterile gloves (at around 42 mins) thereby contaminating them and risking that the patient gets infected. A real surgeon would never do this, and if she or he did, she or he would change gloves. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Christian: Can't wait until you back at school.
Elias: Me too.
See more »

Connections

Featured in DR2 Premiere: Episode #4.1 (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Bittersweet is the Taste of Revenge
29 May 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This film is recommended.

"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

  • Isaac Newton




Two Danish families, worlds apart in their ideologies and circumstances, come together in Suzanne Bier's Oscar winning foreign film, In A Better World. Screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen takes two parallel stories about parallel lives that converge. Although the screenplay doesn't consistently mesh the duality of its concept, with scenes of African turmoil in sharp contrast with idyllic Danish villages, it does provide thought provoking mediation about the subject of revenge and its impact on violence, death, and day-to-day hardships faced by some minorities in our global realm.

Family No. 1: Anton (Mikael Persbrandt), a Swedish doctor who works in Sudan treating victim of war crimes, tries to be a principled and ethical pacifist, an idealist lost in an ungodly world. He confronts conflict at work and in his private life as his marriage to Marianne (Trine Dyrholm) is floundering. His son, Elias (Markus Rygaard), is dealing with bullying at school and his parents' possible divorce at home.

Family No. 2: Claus (Ulrich Thomsen), a recently widowed and grieving father and his son, Christian (William Johnk Nielsen), who blames his father for his mother's death and cannot adapt to the loss of his mother. Both troubled souls move from London to start a better life.

When Christian defends Elias from the school bully, both boys become instant friends and begin a dysfunctional bonding to survive a world that they perceive as riddled with injustice. Later, an disturbing incident occurs between Anton and another parent which triggers the two boys into righting a wrong in a most extreme way. No longer wanted to be victims, they instead become the oppressors.

Complex issues abound in this film. At some point, each character's action causes an act of retribution, a penalty for their misconduct, but not always the most deserving of punishments. In this unfair world of ours, the turning of a cheek may result in injury rather than reward. Karma is at work and actions decide our fate. We witness the ill treatment of people victimized with global acts of mistreatment and persecution in each country and are unprepared for the film's stark reality. It is the universal atrocities that prevails in our lives that rankles the core of this film and give the film its undeniable power.

This is definitely a Message Movie with a capital M, although sometimes the message is a mixed blessing, becoming a sermon at the pulpit in Bier's skillful hands. The scenes from Africa seem a bit heavy-handed and just don't correlate with the majority of the more interesting story set in Denmark. It also becomes a tad melodramatic in the end. Yet, one has to admire the noble effort and deeper personal vision of this film as it tackles major issues that are so scarce in today's cinema. The acting, especially the young actors, is exceptional.

In A Better World could have been a better film if the story would have concentrated more with the family dynamics and the psychological effects that compound a child's indefensible adult world. But Bier's film is still one of the better example of filmmaking that will more that satisfy the intellectual and more serious-minded moviegoer today. GRADE: B

NOTE: Visit my movie blog for more reviews: www.dearmoviegoer.com


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