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

R  |   |  Drama  |  26 August 2010 (Denmark)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 30,942 users   Metascore: 65/100
Reviews: 87 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
See  »

Did You Know?


(at around 1h 27 mins) One of the medical staff mentions Elias is 12 years old. At around 13 mins, their teacher notes that Christian and Elias have the same birthday, so Christian is also 12 (the same age that William Jøhnk Nielsen was during "filming"). See more »


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 »


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


Featured in The 83rd Annual Academy Awards (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Very good movie, not quite excellent
3 June 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

As with so many Scandinavian films and TV programmes this is strangely compelling and it's not always clear to me whether this is because they are so well made or because the culture is slightly different from ours. Unlike many American movies this was easy to watch and I was not aware of the time passing. On the contrary I was surprised when it ended as I was so absorbed.

I'm not however convinced of its stature as a masterpiece as some have claimed, or that it is a worthy Oscar winner. It's beautifully filmed and acted but the story seemed to be a bit laboured. I actually applaud the message that the director was trying to put across but in the end I felt a bit dissatisfied just because everything ended so well for everyone and they all seemed to have learned their lessons. You could say that I just wanted something more visceral on the lines of a Hollywood movie but that's not the problem. I just don't believe that all the major characters could emerge so relatively unscathed.

Perhaps the real message is that we should choose to believe in the best outcomes so that's the choice I am making.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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