In a Better World (2010)
"Hævnen" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama  |  26 August 2010 (Denmark)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 31,301 users   Metascore: 65/100
Reviews: 88 user | 200 critic | 29 from

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.



(screenplay), (story), 2 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 11 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »



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


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



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:






| | |

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)


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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


In the first minutes of the movie, the white T-Shirt that Anton (Mikael Persbrandt) is wearing during the surgery of the little girl gets blood stained (at around 24 mins). When finished and outside the tent, the stain is much smaller and misplaced (at around 20 mins). When leaving on the small truck, the blood stain has moved once more (at around 50 mins). See more »


Christian: If you hit them hard enough the first time they won't dare to hit you again.
See more »


Featured in Maltin on Movies: Arthur (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Cruel to Be Kind
25 April 2011 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. As is customary, the Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language film finally makes it to Dallas in April AFTER the awards show is long forgotten (well, except for the half-assed hosting job by James Franco). Denmark's entry, directed by Susanne Bier (Things We Lost in the Fire), is overflowing with every human emotion one can imagine. However, the battle between two emotions is most prevalent: misplaced revenge and forgiveness.

At it's core, this is a story of two fathers and two sons. The presentation is quite odd in that it tries desperately to tie in all spectrum of human emotion and economic standing. Anton (Mikael Persbrandt from the excellent 2008 "Everlasting Moments") travels back and forth between an African refugee camp where he serves as a doctor, and his upscale Denmark home where he is separated from his wife and trying to set a good example for his son Elias (Markus Rygaard).

The other father is Claus (Ulrich Thomsen) whose relationship with his son Christian (William Johnk Nielsen) is flat out terrible. Christian's mother has recently lost her battle with cancer and it has caused a rift between these two ... and lit a fire of anger in young Christian.

Soon enough Christian stumbles upon Elias being bullied at school. His flaming temper sets the bully straight with a violent act, creating a bond between Elias and Christian. Sadly Christian continues to spin off axis and he drags Elias along.

As a doctor in the camp, Anton constantly strives to repair the despicable acts of the local town bully. This is used to contrast with what's going on with his own son at home. There are many parts of the film that are difficult to watch, especially as Christian just loses his grip on reality.

While I certainly see the excellence in the film, I believe the filmmakers tried too hard to stage the contrast. The story of the boys was plenty powerful enough to carry a film. Also, the doctor in the camp could have made a chilling movie on it's own. Instead we gets bits of each and that's fine ... just not what it might have been.

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