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An astonishing achievement
jstad-906-12020024 November 2010
Saw this in Toronto and it remained with me for days afterward. Shattering filmmaking! The size and elegance of a Hollywood big budget, with the honesty and challenge of an indy. The performances, especially those of the two boys, are riveting, but I was also impressed with the deep focus photography, the haunting score. Went to see this because I had so enjoyed After the Wedding - but feel this is even better. Only the ending conflict resolution is, perhaps, a little too easy-- but not unearned. And oh boy, was I grateful for it. I want to see this with my son, because I want him to experience the moral and emotional snake pit Bier and her screenwriter toss us into: every guy --no matter what age-- will get it, and none of us will like it very much. To me, Bier speaks about what it SHOULD mean to be a man. Is vengeance built into our genes? I hope not. And I hope this wins the Academy Award this year, and everybody in America goes to see it.
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christiandyrbye28 August 2010
I went to see this movie with no expectations what so ever. When we arrived to the theater i saw people leaving (who just saw the movie) with tears streaming down their face. Inside the theater people was talking and laughing but after a few minutes their was a deadly silence all around us. The story is so well-written and the actors play just marvelous. Even the child actors, who often ruin most movies, were casted and performed perfectly. The camera setting is some of the best i've seen in a long time. There are so many beautiful scenes from Denmark aswel in some African country.

I highly recommend every one to go see this movie. The story is well written, and not full of the usual clichés film these days are full off. Susanne Bier has truly pulled of a masterpiece.

I heard a rumor after wards that this movie might be nominated for an Oscar, which i really hope for. Everyone should watch this emotional movie.

And for you who are wondering if i left the theater crying no i didn't, but my eyes got wet 3 or 4 times during the movie. That happens extremely rarely for me.
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The problem of vengeance
stensson7 October 2010
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.
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Where does it end?
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews3 September 2010
After his mother's death, Christian moves once again, and starts in a new school. He meets Elias, and defends him against bullies. The latter's father works as a doctor in Africa, with a sadistic crime lord nearby. And so we have the setting for a drama exploring revenge, as well as power struggles, loss and fear. The overall moral isn't going to surprise anyone(and it isn't entirely consistent), and this does occasionally stoop to a cliché. However, it remains a gripping and effective film, and it manages to interject a lot of insight and truth, seeing situations from multiple different perspectives. This is the second movie by Bier that I watch, and I am confirmed in my assertion that Things We Lost in The Fire was a fluke, and not representative of her level of talent(it should be noted that the main problem with that one was the script, and she had nothing to do with that). She abandons the eyeball shots, and there is much rejoicing. The camera is close at times, though no longer oppressively so. This has a cinematography similar to the show NCIS, with hand-held cameras. I didn't feel like the nature footage added anything, at least not that of Denmark. The editing puts you right there, without being annoying or particularly drawing attention to itself. This is written by the man behind Den Du Frygter, Mørke and Blinkende Lygter(and other famous ones, but those are the ones I've seen and liked), and his skill and credible, human characters(that are the focus) shines through. Everything is set up, and most of it pays off. The acting is excellent, without exception, the kids especially. Our half-way orphaned lead captures every look and movement to perfection, and they really did find someone who could be Thomsen's son. Bodnia returns to a typecast role for him, and delivers. The vast majority of the humor works, and nearly none of it detracts from the serious and important subject. Everyone can recognize the little brother in someone they do or have known. The music is appropriate and not distracting. Dialog is great. No soap opera moments, it all comes across as entirely genuine, and nothing comes out of the blue. The tone is mature and honest; we don't feel preached to, or lectured, this respects its audience and honestly understands what it has to say, it isn't merely repeating a mantra. There is gore(think ER) and disturbing content in this. I recommend it to anyone that this at all appeals to. 8/10
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Fantastic! This is a must see!!
patrikkeihag19 October 2010
A good movie is a good movie. But I seldom have seen such a fantastic movie from Scandinavia. The photo, the locations, the casting, the music, the acting, a strong story and Susanne Biers touch of directing.

I was really glad to see Mikael Persbrandt in this kind of roll, hoping to see more of this... The two young boys, playing the main characters, wow! We have not seen the last of this young men!

A strong story on many levels, a beautiful sadness from the Nordic country's, with a high recognize level for most people...

You really need to see this film, one of the best ones I have seen in years.

I wouldn't be surprised if this movie wins a ton of awards.

Susanne Bier, you have made a lot of good films before this one, but for this one I really salute you.

Thank You!!
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This isn't as much a great movie as a great experience
socrates9919 October 2011
This movie is a far more direct and disturbing probe into some of our more troubling inclinations than anything I've seen since becoming a fan of Lars von Trier's movies. The topic here is vengeance and its consequences, more or less. I was a little surprised to find it had been directed by a woman, Susanne Bier. I've always thought women would be good at this kind of near melodrama but have never actually seen one tackle such a project, to my knowledge. The story centers around two boys and their developing reaction to first school house bullying, but then a much more serious instance of it in their home life. The acting is beautifully done and none of the leads seem to have held back in the slightest. One dad is a doctor who, it appears, donates his services to a part of Africa wrought with violence. Despite his obvious good nature, he and his wife, also a doctor, are having problems.

It's unusual in my experience to have a woman show just how much more selfless a man might be than his wife, but that is exactly what is done here. And it's quite refreshing. But the sweep and breadth of this movie is quite satisfying on its own, spanning from Africa to modern day Denmark. This is a trip I wouldn't hesitate recommending to anyone.
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In a better movie...
Hellmant15 September 2011
'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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Bittersweet is the Taste of Revenge
jadepietro29 May 2011
This film is recommended.

"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

  • Isaac Newton

Two Danish families, worlds apart in their ideologies and circumstances, come together in Suzanne Bier's Oscar winning foreign film, In A Better World. Screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen takes two parallel stories about parallel lives that converge. Although the screenplay doesn't consistently mesh the duality of its concept, with scenes of African turmoil in sharp contrast with idyllic Danish villages, it does provide thought provoking mediation about the subject of revenge and its impact on violence, death, and day-to-day hardships faced by some minorities in our global realm.

Family No. 1: Anton (Mikael Persbrandt), a Swedish doctor who works in Sudan treating victim of war crimes, tries to be a principled and ethical pacifist, an idealist lost in an ungodly world. He confronts conflict at work and in his private life as his marriage to Marianne (Trine Dyrholm) is floundering. His son, Elias (Markus Rygaard), is dealing with bullying at school and his parents' possible divorce at home.

Family No. 2: Claus (Ulrich Thomsen), a recently widowed and grieving father and his son, Christian (William Johnk Nielsen), who blames his father for his mother's death and cannot adapt to the loss of his mother. Both troubled souls move from London to start a better life.

When Christian defends Elias from the school bully, both boys become instant friends and begin a dysfunctional bonding to survive a world that they perceive as riddled with injustice. Later, an disturbing incident occurs between Anton and another parent which triggers the two boys into righting a wrong in a most extreme way. No longer wanted to be victims, they instead become the oppressors.

Complex issues abound in this film. At some point, each character's action causes an act of retribution, a penalty for their misconduct, but not always the most deserving of punishments. In this unfair world of ours, the turning of a cheek may result in injury rather than reward. Karma is at work and actions decide our fate. We witness the ill treatment of people victimized with global acts of mistreatment and persecution in each country and are unprepared for the film's stark reality. It is the universal atrocities that prevails in our lives that rankles the core of this film and give the film its undeniable power.

This is definitely a Message Movie with a capital M, although sometimes the message is a mixed blessing, becoming a sermon at the pulpit in Bier's skillful hands. The scenes from Africa seem a bit heavy-handed and just don't correlate with the majority of the more interesting story set in Denmark. It also becomes a tad melodramatic in the end. Yet, one has to admire the noble effort and deeper personal vision of this film as it tackles major issues that are so scarce in today's cinema. The acting, especially the young actors, is exceptional.

In A Better World could have been a better film if the story would have concentrated more with the family dynamics and the psychological effects that compound a child's indefensible adult world. But Bier's film is still one of the better example of filmmaking that will more that satisfy the intellectual and more serious-minded moviegoer today. GRADE: B

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Bully now, bully always
koolbloke20 January 2013
Like anything, people will offer their own view of things. This is my own.

There are many films out there that focus on bullying and its effect on the children that experience it. A few will go further to picture the consequences to those children as they become adults, some of whom will never overcome that.

But it was the first time, from my perspective, that a film ventures to show bullying by an adult. As the stories (in Africa and in Denmark) run in parallel, it makes one wonder what the child bully would become if he were not stopped.

Brilliantly told, it left me with a sense that in our days we are still not taking bullying as seriously as we should. So how can the bullies ?
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Very good movie, not quite excellent
basilisksamuk3 June 2012
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.
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An intense drama touching upon two families...
AlsExGal9 April 2021
Each with a young son who is being severely bullied at school. The idea of bullying is the point of departure for a look at related issues, especially the idea of revenge. The original Danish title was actually that single word---revenge. It was changed (the new title is somewhat of a stub ) for the International release, probably for the better, at least for the USA since the original title would probably conjure the notion of an action film with a minimum of delicacy instead of what it is, a rather heavy-hitting soap opera that deals with the inevitable emotional upheaval with a modicum of nuance here and there.

The movie asks how does one handle this sort of humiliating experience. This theme is enlarged by the fact that one of the fathers is a doctor who treats patients at a Sudanese refugee camp and has to deal with roving warlords. Back home this father makes what what comes across as a wise decision in turning the other cheek when he himself is bullied and lightly pushed around by a neighbor mainly because the offense was relatively light weight but could have escalated into something of a serious and perhaps far-reaching consequence.

So what do you do when such discretion is lost on your 10-year-old son who thinks you're a coward and calls you a wimp? The teleplay makes clear that domestic corporal punishment or no dessert for a week is not the answer, it wants to mean business and point to a more non-visceral response. This episode is thematically important and hits home with its direct simplicity and urgency but is subservient in scope to what these two young boys are up to.

There is backstory where a mother has died of cancer in one family, and a separation is in progress in the other, both that take a toll on the two young boys. Danish actress Trine Dyrholm pulls off an incredibly charged scene where she stumbles upon the neighboring boy in the hall of a hospital towards whom she has an uncontrollable and justifiable anger when she suddenly realizes that she is talking to a child, a child the same age as her own. The struggle in betraying a sudden compassion in such a circumstance is extraordinary.

Wisely, the teleplay imposes an interruption to the scene, otherwise the whole thing might have been ruined by either over sentimentality or rank incredulity. As is, it is terrific and I still have not been able to quite get it out of my mind.
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An Essay on Revenge
3xHCCH13 March 2011
"In a Better World" by Susanne Bier from Denmark has won both the Golden Globe and later, the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It has done so over much more high-profile films like "Biutiful" from Mexico. My friend from Denmark has not seen it yet, but she told me that Ms. Bier is known for films about relationships. And this one is certainly no different.

The film follows the relationship of two confused pre-teen Danish boys. Christian's mother just died from cancer and he is angry at his dad for letting her go. He is the type who would not simply turn the other cheek in a conflict. Elias is the kid bullies like to pick on in school. His parents, who were both doctors, were in the process of divorce, which distresses him. Elias' dad works as a volunteer doctor in Africa, and this gives the film an extra dimension to work with.

The actual Danish title of this film is "Haevnen" which translates to "revenge." This is exactly what this film is all about. From the more familiar revenge on a bully at school to revenge in several other permutations in different situations in life are depicted here. There are several situations when you can effectively feel the tension of the characters in the events as they unfold on screen. Ms. Bier excels in building up the drama in the situations she has presented us, as vengeance ultimately leads to inevitable consequences.

I have not yet seen any of the other nominees yet so I could not really say if this was the best of them. All I can say is that this family melodrama was well done. The inter-crossing of the stories was done very effectively with suspense and sensitivity. The film is long (almost 2 hrs) and slow, but it is riveting. However, you can't completely shake the feeling that the conflicts you are seeing in "In a Better World" are all familiar situations that we probably have all seen before in various other films -- just better presented. And that is the thing that sets it apart.
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A Nutshell Review: In a Better World
DICK STEEL20 May 2011
Winner of this year's Golden Globes and the Oscars, the Danish film In a Better World, or Revenge in its native language, helmed by director Susanne Bier shows the powerful stuff that drama is made of, in crafting an engaging, sensitive and even dangerous tale that revolves around two families across two continents that deals with what I would deem as our threshold, tolerance and approach to the notion of being bullied and having the tables turned, to varying consequences.

There's Clause (Ulrich Thomsen) and his son Christian (William Jøhnk Nielsen) who just moved from London to a small Danish town, where the son blames the father for giving up the good fight against his mom's fight against cancer, and so forges an extremely testy relationship between the two since one fails to forgive the other, and the other trying too hard to seek it. In school, Christian meets Elias (Markus Rygaard), a boy constantly bullied by the older boys just because, whose doctor parents Anton (Mikael Persbrandt) and Marianne (Trine Dyrholm) are estranged because of the suggestion of the former's infidelity, and are on the brink of a divorce. The other major subplot and spatial treatment deals with Anton's time in an African village tending to the poor and the sick, which you'd know from volunteer groups out there who have doctors in their fold performing similar pro-bono services in under dangerous natural and man made circumstances.

As mentioned, the film focuses on something that rears its ugly head from time to time, with bullying happening not only within a school sandbox, but out there in society as well. And the ways we stand up to bullying got captured quite clearly here, as demonstrated by the different characters and their attitudes in handling such situations. For instance, Christian adopts the devil may care approach, for the young lad that he is, preferring to meet fire with fire, and dish out even worst than he received. Constantly scowling, William Nielsen does a good job portraying this angry boy whose daring gets more elaborate culminating in a tense moment which came quite expected in a way though saved by strong performances all round.

While his partner in crime and fellow peer Elias finds himself caught up in a dilemma and tussle whether to rat on his friend who had actually helped to keep the bullies at bay, perhaps it is how Ander Thomas Jensen's story that links Elias' father into the thick of things that made it richly layered. For all his compassion in helping to heal the poor in Africa, Anton follows a vastly different policy in the face of adversity. Perhaps you can point it to the Hippocratic Oath that all doctors have to adhere to, given his moral battle with his conscience when his skills are sought out by a vicious local warlord much to the worries and disbelief of the local population who has a growing respect for the good work performed for the community.

Anton is a fascinating character created, and Mikael Persbrandt shows his charisma in chewing up the scenes each time he appears, from the opening frame to the last. In a foreign land he's almost worshipped as a hero, but back home he's ridiculed and even abused by a stranger with whom he had no fight against, and his non-confrontational nature may seem unreal even, preferring never to stoop as low as his abuser, and hopefully imparting the correct values to his children. But as we see from the wrap up of the African subplot, Anton can in fact turn the tables if he chooses to, and I suppose it's really to pick one's fight, for those that truly matter (maybe even for the greater good, with intent a little bit suspect) rather than one for personal pride.

Director Susanne Bier just knows how to pace and package scenes that make you think, yet offering a lot of heart that they don't seem too overly engineered or manipulative. Through the tales of the different character arcs we see how true the avenues are in our very human response to those that give us flak for nothing or when we deem a certain injustice committed unto ourselves or others, either we talk our way out, fight back, or walk away with heads held high, the latter which is probably one of the hardest thing to do given bruised egos. It's also not too surprising that the perpetrators of this emotional downward spiral seem not to come from the women in the story like Anton's wife Marianne, who was almost like a flower vase if not for two superb scenes in the final act that lifted her role into one of necessity in contrast to how disappointed yet angry a mother can be, that Christian will never feel because of his own mother's absence.

A compelling dramatic piece with excellent characters and relationships, brought vividly to life by the cast of youth holding their own against the veterans, that makes this a must watch, and one of the best films of the year. Highly recommended!
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Violent revenge does not create a better world
hawleye-297-58800115 April 2012
In a Better World is a gripping story of two families united through tragedy and misfortunes. Christian, the main character, is a young boy who is dealing with the loss of his mother and his distant father. While Christian deal with his mother's death, he and his father, Claus, move to a new town and Christian is enrolled in a new school. At the new school, Christian becomes friends with Elias, a young boy who is bullied at school and does not make friends easily. These two boys struggle through their trials together and learn about revenge, betrayal, forgiveness, trust and friendships. Christian is the only person who will defend Elias when he is bullied by other kids at school. Christian's first act of defense is to threaten and beat up the boy who bullies Elias. Christian gets himself into trouble with this and from here his troubles spiral out of control because of his desire to get revenge on those who have done something wrong.

Along with his problems at school, Elias also has problems to deal with at home. His parents are in the midst of a divorce and his father is rarely around as he travels to Africa frequently to serve as a doctor. Because of this, Elias seems lost and alone before he becomes friends with Christian.

There are many prevalent themes throughout the film that are very relatable to most viewers. Many complex relationships are portrayed throughout the film and serve to add depth and meaning to the story. The relationship between Anton and Marianne, Elias' parents, is very strained and effects Elias and the way he acts in school. Elias and his father have a stereotypical father-son relationship, except that Elias' father travels a lot and is not always around. This puts a lot of stress on Elias and he does not always have someone to talk to about his problems. When Elias and his father are shown talking via skype, it is clear that Elias just wants someone to talk to, but his father is too distant and almost seems to not care about his son's troubles while he is away. The relationship between Christian and his father is also strained. Christian and his father do not communicate with each other and this causes them to not get along. Claus puts a lot of pressure on Christian to be good, but Christian does not agree with the way his father thinks and acts how he wants regardless of his father. The relationship between Elias and Christian is the most prevalent relationship seen in the film. Their relationship is built on kindness towards each other, but as the film goes on, their friendship becomes strained when they have different views on how to deal with situations. In the beginning, they are able to find common ground and bond over the fact that their parents are not together, although for different reasons. In the end, Christian and Elias' relationship works because they both want the same thing, they both want to fit in and be important to someone.

One of the biggest themes in the film is revenge and violence. It seems as though everyone in the film wants to get revenge on someone somehow. Christian and Elias want revenge on the boy who bullied Elias, they also want revenge on a man that hit Elias' father. Marianne wants some sort of revenge for the way that she was treated by Anton. The young boys see revenge as a way to solve problems, however, their parents do their best to teach the boys that revenge will not solve any problems. We also see the residents of the camp in Africa where Anton works wanting to get revenge. They end up acting violently, similar to the way that Christian and Elias acted when they wanted revenge against the bully in school. Through this film, we are able to see bullying from the perspective of a young school boy and from the perspective of adults. We see that this cruelness exists in childhood and sometimes continues into adulthood. Bullying also occurs across cultures as we see when Anton is working in Africa. We are able to see this story from the point of view of a child and of an adult which adds to the complexity of the emotions shown throughout the film.

I found it difficult to relate to the characters and sympathize with them as I have never gone through any trials similar to these. I could not image ever acting like Christian and Elias or thinking of ways similar to theirs to get revenge. The boys come up with very extreme ideas to get revenge. I was taught at a young age that getting revenge rarely solves anything and I found myself feeling frustrated with the young boys for acting the way they did.

I enjoyed the acting in the film. I felt pulled into the story by the emotions shown by each character and the way that the characters dealt with their emotions. Through these different emotions, the film was able to deepen and move forward. I was especially impressed by Trine Dyrholm's acting. After seeing her in other movies, I am impressed by the different characters that she is able to portray. None of the characters seemed at all the same and she brought a different element to each of the characters I have seen her act as.

Over all, I found the film to be very dramatic and emotional. I would not watch this film again because I did not enjoy the drama and I thought that the way the boys dealt with their emotions was far beyond what any actual 10 year old would do. Throughout the film, I questioned the actions of the characters and I thought there were some aspects that were unrealistic.
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Silly film
jacabiya11 September 2011
This film just came out on DVD and I rented it knowing it had won an Oscar but w/o any knowledge of the plot, the reviews or the director. I found it awfully pretentious, unbelievable, without an ounce of truth and contrived in order to send a global moral message a la Babel (ironically, this film beat Biutiful). But contrary to Inarritu, Bier strives to provide us with a happy ending to reinforce and feed on our Western's comfortable view of the world, with 30 of the silliest minutes ever put on film at the end. If you don't mind being lectured with an unbelievable story, and want to feel that in the end everything will be OK then by all means watch this film. You can predict the big dramatic scene (not the one in Africa, which I did not find believable) 20 minutes away. This film about suffering blonde blue-eyed European doctors and well-to-do people and their sons has no relevance to my life or to the lives of most. And the boy-knows-it-all-psychopath was also unbelievable and not likable. All in all, this a manipulative, insulting film, made by someone who perhaps has good intentions but lacks talent, is full of herself and is totally out of touch with the reality of most people.
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Deep and thoughtful
billcr1221 April 2012
The winner for best foreign language Oscar in 2010, In a Better World was a worthy recipient. Two parallel story lines are used very effectively by director Susanne Bier. A Swedish doctor who lives in Denmark also works in the Sudan treating mostly poor and abused women. Anton is a good man who is separated from his wife, Marianne because of an affair with another woman.

Their 12 year old son, Elias is bullied at school and is defended by Christian, a new kid in his class with problems of his own. His mother has died of cancer and he blames his father for her demise. He has used a knife to threaten the bully and Christian hides it while denying the presence of a weapon to both their parents and the police. Anton also breaks up a fight between his younger son and another boy and is later slapped by the kids father, as he tries to teach his children to turn the other cheek.

Back in the Sudan, the good doctor returns and is forced to treat a warlord who has caused so much misery but Anton refuses until his armed bodyguards leave the area. After some unpleasantness, doc finally loses his temper and drags his ungrateful patient out to a crowd where payback soon occurs.

The final chapter brings together Christian and Elias with a revenge scheme on the man who slapped Dr. Anton in the face. They build a bomb to blow up his car, but the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry; as the saying goes, so watch this thoughtful drama with your heart and mind and you will not be disappointed.
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10th Anniversary
Blue-Grotto27 August 2020
Someone who fears nothing, Herman Melville said, is far more dangerous to be with than a coward. This is because a coward runs from trouble, but arrogance leads straight into it. Or take it from the Art of War, "If you try to be strong everywhere, you are strong nowhere." Balance is needed.

Christian is a fearless kid in a new school. A bully gets the drop on him at first, but Christian returns with vengeance and a knife. "No one dares touch me now," he says. Christian's recklessness and impulsive, violent behavior leads to increasingly dire situations. Shockwaves extend to Christian's trusting friend, his grieving father, a couple of doctors facing a separation, and even an African refugee camp harassed by a rampaging warlord. All are pulled into Christian's orbit or face similar demons, and struggle to balance themselves in a better world.

The success of this engaging, thoughtful and sensitive film is due to a compelling story, fascinating themes, interesting characters, strong acting and a brilliant, decisive and masterful director. Besides contrasting cowardice with recklessness, In a Better World deals with forgiveness, how it can be a weakness as much as a strength, and interdependence. I liked it better after watching it a second time. Academy Award winner for best foreign language film. Streaming on Amazon, YouTube, Vudu and more.
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Kids' transformation
kraljevic41122 December 2015
I always like watching movies based on this topic, following a boy that has experienced a big tragedy and noticing how he thinks, responds, reacts and talks with other people. It was really tough seeing parents in both families struggling to communicate and cope with their kids' problems. Those are very vulnerable ages and really hard dealing with, as for their peers, as well for the grown ups surrounding them. I'm not even closely disappointed with the movie altogether, fascinated with acting (especially the kids' acting) and the message this movie sends to every child, and also to the parents that need to cooperate and be full of understanding and patience. I also shed a few tears, especially during the breakdowns which were quite emotional. Being not that far with these kids by age, I must say the temptations always existed but it is very important to resist them, particularly if they are close to the ones in the movie. So, my vote is a 9 out of a 10.
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A touching piece with too many elements
davejr9114 January 2015
I got the opportunity to watch this film last night as part of my annual film club and had read the previous reviews so anticipated seeing it.

Like some of the reviewers on here, I agree that it is filmed beautifully and the location and set are a great backdrop to the deep and thoughtful narrative encapsulating the audience.

Both boys in the film absolutely steal the show and provide a very convincing performance where you sincerely believe they are both within the 'pact' together and that their friendship is solely based on vengeance - until the very end, when Christian admits that the very core of his demand for payback was remorse for his mother's battle with cancer (and repressing feelings toward his Dad).

I agree with a few people on here in which the Africa plot was a little bit hard to distinguish against the main plot line as I believe they are trying to run both stories parallel but we don't spend enough time developing characterisation for the African's lives and their wives who had been targeted. Rather, our minds are more set on deciphering the boys relationship and where it's going to go next - the film would have been just as good (if not a little better) without it.

Also, I couldn't help but think that towards the end of the film, it could have been wrapped up a bit quicker than what it did - whilst the landscape shots / and the birds in the sky do provide us with a slight metaphor about the beauty of life, I felt that they did get a little tedious to the end. Don't get me wrong, when used correctly this sort of thing can have a very strong impact, but in this instance I believe we just needed a conclusion to settle the story.

All in all, a great film, challenging everyday emotions and morals, with a great cast who execute the film perfectly. Take out a few scenes and this would have been one for the vaults.
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A Look At A Man
gadgetnall24 February 2014
This movie is a very good look at one man's inner workings or into his soul if that is how you would rather put it. The movie is not perfect by any stretch and some of the performers acting could have been a little bit better.

The lead actor was very good and you could see how he was changing throughout the movie. I'm not sure exactly what it is about the cinema in Denmark and of the Dutch and that region of Europe but for some reason all of the movies of theirs that I watch I tend to really enjoy and find amazing.

Definitely worth watching!
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An Eye For An Eye Only Makes The Whole World Blind.
CinemaClown8 October 2013
Winner of Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, In a Better World (also known as Hævnen) is a Danish drama that tells the story of two separate families, which is going through a tough time and focuses on the budding friendship between their two kids, who are equally troubled by what's brewing inside their homes.

Co-written & directed by Susanne Bier, In a Better World explores the themes of revenge & forgiveness and is crafted with care & dedication. The screenplay handles the dynamics of the two families quite well, sensibly portraying their separate conflicts but it's the friendship between the two kids and how it's handled that makes up for the picture's best part.

The technical aspects are nicely executed with its camera capturing every location in fine detail while also making commendable use of its warm colour palette, Editing unfolds the story at an unhurried pace thus letting each moment run its course, and the performances by its entire cast is top-notch for every actor has done complete justice to his or her given role.

On an overall scale, In a Better World is an intriguing study of friendship, isolation, domestic troubles, vengeance & its consequences and covers the moral issues faced by people of all ages at some point in their lives. Brilliantly directed, elegantly written, sincerely performed, wonderfully photographed, calmly paced, In a Better World makes a strong statement about the complexities of human emotions, is powerfully moving at places, and definitely deserves a wider audience. Thoroughly recommended.
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Wonderful capturing of feelings
nmujtoba11 June 2013
Something is not needed to be described, its remain in your feelings which will guide you to see the world through fluctuation of mind state. This movie is a masterpiece to translate our inner words our inner sorrows that we can not help but want to do something.This will somehow teach you about your behavior upon situation and will make you to feel about yourself as a character. Certainly a question will arise that, what will i do in this kind of situation ? Overall its a live drama and special credit goes to music composer. After all these compliment i just want to say that director may take a story about more older two boys' than Elias and Christian. The depth of the movie would be more astonishing.
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Bier Has Been Better
WriterDave23 April 2011
Susanne Bier's latest Danish melodrama, "In a Better World" is both her least stylistic and most didactic. What came across as natural and compelling in past films seems forced here as she weaves a tale of global bullying.

With that being said, Bier is still able to bring forth great performances from her cast (a hallmark of all her films), and the film isn't without its thought-provoking and emotionally resonant moments. It's also bolstered by some beautiful cinematography of both the Danish coastline and unnamed parts of Africa.

If you are uninitiated to Bier and have been provoked by the film's Oscar win to check this out, I highly recommend "Open Hearts" or "After the Wedding" first so that you can get a feel for the totality and high quality of her work.

Check out full reviews at
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Examining War Under a Microscope: Revenge vs Forgiveness
gradyharp14 April 2011
Susanne Bier ('Things We Lost in the Fire', 'After the Wedding', 'Brothers', etc) is rapidly becoming a powerful force in making cinematic examinations of human behavior. Not only is she able to construct stories (with the frequent close collaboration of screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen) that define characters with multilayered personalities, but she is also able to carry those characters into the realm of metaphors for her view of the world as she cautiously defines it. IN A BETTER WORLD is a masterpiece of cinematic achievement, blessed with a cast of Nordic actors who are masters of their craft, and photographed with sweeping panoramas as well as intense intimacy by Morten Søborg, and held together with a musical score by Johan Söderqvist. It never skips a beat.

Anton (Mikael Persbrandt, in one of the most keenly fleshed out roles in years) and his wife Marianne (Trine Dyrholm) are both doctors. Anton spends the better part of his practice in the windswept poverty stricken deserts in Darfur, tending to all manner of illness but not the least of which are wounds from human conflicts (there is a warlord who has been ripping the abdomens of pregnant women who eventually himself becomes a patient of Anton). He and Marianne are separated because of Anton's indiscretion and their children are torn between life with their mother and their too distant but very loving father. Their son Elias (Markus Rygaard) is bullied at school because he wears braces etc, and suffers quietly. His only friend is another boy named Christian (William Jøhnk Nielsen), a very troubled lad whose mother has recently died form cancer: Christian blames his father Claus (Ulrich Thomsen) for wanting her to die (in truth Claus allowed his beloved wife to stop painful therapies and pass with dignity) and Christian feels an ever present need for revenge. When Christian sees Elias being bullied he fights the brute who is hurting Elias, brandishing a knife in the fight - a fact that draws school attention to both Elias and Christian while at the same time bonding them more closely.

Anton returns home, witnesses the manner in which Elias is taunted by an adult and becomes involved in evading a fight: a grim plumber slaps Anton but Anton turns his cheek. This act ignites Christian who hates to see Elias' father not get revenge and together the boys plan to bomb the plumbers van - and act which leads to a problem that eventually brings around an understanding among all concerned - fathers and sons. There are so many sub-stories in this film that it takes a bit of distance to appreciate all the pacifist statements Bier is making. She appears to be demonstrating on many levels how little incidents can lead to disasters much the way the differences between countries can lead to war. The beauty of Bier's message is the presentation of the complexities of love between parents and children, husbands and wives, and doctors and patients: pain and empathy fill many of the portions of the poignant dialogue of this compelling story.

This film is a powerful work of art and a magnificent success for Suzanne Bier and her incredible cast of actors. Highly Recommended.

Grady Harp
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Three Elements in the Story, very good film
himanshug12 September 2012
Susanne Bier has succeeded in placing Christian Principal or modern Gandhian thought of pacifism against violence in a Morden contemporary social context in a Danish society, equating parallel with an African society. Brier has created another good film with a good story which is well narrated. There are three elements of stories are intertwined. Loss of wife/mother resulting loss, grief, sadness and anger on one side and loss through divorce causing vulnerability in human experiences are well portrayed. Another element of the story is how you respond to anger/violence. The third element questions the difference between western world and third world. Film is well supported with their various actors. I strongly recommend this film to all thinking audience. I have become Susanne Bier Fan.
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