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

 -  Drama  -  26 August 2010 (Denmark)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 27,781 users   Metascore: 65/100
Reviews: 81 user | 194 critic | 29 from Metacritic.com

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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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

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:

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Language:

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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

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Susanne Bier's fourth collaboration with screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen (following Open Hearts (2002), Brothers (2004) and After the Wedding (2006)), and the third time she has cast Ulrich Thomsen (after Sekten (1997) and Brothers (2004)). See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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

Connections

Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.11 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
In a better movie...
15 September 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

'IN A BETTER WORLD': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

This Danish drama won Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards (as well as the 2011 Golden Globe). It deals with violence in Denmark among children when two ten year olds meet at school and form an unhealthy alliance against bullies. The film was titled 'Haevnen' in Danish which means 'The Revenge'. It was directed by Susanne Bier and written by Anders Thomas Jensen. It stars Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt (and some of the film is spoken in Swedish, as well as English) as well as Trine Dyrholm, Ulrich Thomsen, William Johnk Nielsen and Markus Rygaard. I found the film interesting and well made but not nearly as good as all the critical acclaim and accolades it's gotten.

The film focuses on a boy named Elias (Rygaard) who is constantly picked on and abused by bullies at his school in Denmark. His father, Anton (Persbrandt), is a doctor who works at a refugee camp in Africa and is constantly commuting back and forth. Anton and Elias's mother, Marianne (Dyrholm), have not been getting along and are contemplating a divorce. Elias's younger brother has not been effected by this as much as he has but his parent's problems combined with the bullying at school has caused a lot of emotional problems for Elias. When a new kid named Christian (Nielsen) moves to town with his father, Claus (Thomsen), from London Elias finally finds a good friend and someone he can relate to. Christian, having just lost his mother to cancer, has psychological issues of his own and is eager to help Elias with his problems. They first get revenge on the main bully picking on Elias at school in a somewhat brutal way but when Anton is assaulted by another father their ideas for revenge turn much more dangerous.

I could really relate to the outcast elements of the film and the issues of dealing with bullying and finding that one friend you can really relate to but I didn't understand the depression issues that pushed the kids towards violence so easily. I've read that's part of the film's point, exploring "how little it takes before a child - or an adult - thinks something is deeply unjust" (as said by Bier herself, according to Wikipedia). In that way the film works but I couldn't really find it relatable. For a film to really work for me it has to strike certain emotions and I have to connect with it in some kind of way (either emotionally or on a pure entertainment level) and this film didn't do that for me (as well made as it is). The acting, directing and writing are all more than adequate but in my opinion it's far from a great film.

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