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

R  |   |  Drama  |  26 August 2010 (Denmark)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 31,308 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:






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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)


$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?


The Danish title 'Hævnen' translates into English as 'Revenge'. Susanne Bier mentioned that she prefers the English title 'In a Better World' which emphasizes the hopefulness of the film while the Danish title emphasizes the severeness of the film (at 1:52:49 in the Blu-ray director's commentary). 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 »


Anton: Sometimes it feels like there is a veil between you and death, but that veil disappears when you lose someone you loved or someone who was close to you, and you see death clearly, for a second, but later the veil returns, and you carry on living. Then things will be alright again.
See more »


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

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User Reviews

The problem of vengeance
7 October 2010 | by (Stockholm, Sweden) – See all my reviews

Is there any subject more mistreated in movies than retaliation? No, I don't think so. There's a dishonourable and long history about it and calling some of the stuff redneck and primitive is being unfair to the whole redneck movement.

Susanna Bier puts other dimensions to it. The boy being bullied at school is also an old subject, but here the real painful questions about so called pay-back are thrown in our faces. A revenge is seldom just a revenge; it brings other consequences too. That sounds like a cliché, but Susanne Bier says it in a way which concerns us. Like vengeance movies seldom do.

Great performance by Mikael Persbrandt, well known for misusing his talent too many times. But not here.

46 of 60 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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