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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 30,956 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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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?


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 »


Eva's hands change position on Christian's face when she is holding him in the hospital corridor. See more »


Christian: [after testing some explosives] Fuck! That was sick! Imagine if we use one of the big ones. His car will be blown to pieces.
Elias: Whose car?
Christian: That asshole, Lars.
Elias: You want to blow up his car?
Christian: Sure.
Elias: Someone will find out. A car is really expensive.
Christian: Your dad will be pleased.
Elias: I'm not so sure.
Christian: Doesn't matter. No one will find out. Are you in or out?
Elias: I'm not sure...
See more »


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

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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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