In a Better World (Denmark - 2010) - Review

Language - Danish
Genre - Drama, Thriller
Release - 2010

In a Better World, Denmark Movie Poster
In a Better World - Poster
In a Better World (Hævnen) is Susanne Bier's brilliant follow up to the 2006 Oscar nominated film After the Wedding. This time she went all the way and the movie won the coveted Best Foreign Language Film of the Year Oscar in 2010 as well the Golden Globe in the same category, in addition to the numerous awards won at various International Film Festivals around the world.

Anyone who has seen Susanne's brilliant previous efforts like After the Wedding and Brothers would be aware of her great skills at capturing powerful emotions and drama in normal human settings and creating interesting and realistic characters. In a Better World is another of Susanne's masterpiece, worthy of all the acclaim.

'In a Better World' is an engrossing tale of two Danish families, each grappling with their own personal tragedies, and the boys of the two families forming a strong friendship. The movie opens with a shot of African children in a refugee camp in Sudan, playfully chasing a vehicle. Anton (Mikael Persbrandt) is a Swedish doctor working in the refugee camp treating the locals for the wounds of war and the hardships of their refugee lives. Meanwhile, back in Denmark, Anton's son Elias (Markus Rygaard) is the target of a bully due to his Swedish roots. A meek and affable young kid, Elias is also struggling with the separation of his parents, Anton and Marianne (Trine Dyrholm). While in Africa, Anton had had an affair leaving Marianne bitter at the betrayal of her trust, and thereby ineffectual of Anton's apologies.

Elias and Christian
In steps Christian (William Jøhnk Nielsen), a young boy of Elias's age who recently lost his mother to cancer and blames his father Claus (Ulrich Thomsen) for giving up, and unforgiving at the 'betrayal' of his father. A new kid in school, Christian forms a friendship with the bullied Elias. After being a collateral victim to the bullying antics targeted on Elias, the 'quietly furious' Christian decides to straighten out the bully with ferocious intensity. Meanwhile, back in Africa, Anton is dealing with another bully named 'big-man' who likes to slit open pregnant women as part of morbid wagers to guess the sex of the unborn. But unlike Christian, Anton believes in the adage "An eye for an eye will make the world go blind". His belief is tested when the 'Big-Man' arrives at his make-shift hospital with a infected leg-wound and decides to treat him, to the disdain of his assistants and Big-Man's victims at the refugee camp. Though later on, disturbed by the death of one of Big-man's victim, Anton's forces Big-Man's hench-men to leave the camp and throws Big-man out of the clinic to be lynched by an angry mob of refugees.

Returning back to Denmark, Anton faces a similar situation when a mechanic slaps Anton for trivial reasons. Instead of violent confrontation, Anton chooses to demonstrate to the young kids the power of decency and humanity and confronts the Mechanic to settle the matter with an apology from the mechanic. However, he ends up getting slapped again though Anton tries to explain to the young children that his self-restraint and decency makes the mechanic a loser for not showing traits of basic decency. The children however are not convinced and they make progressively dangerous choices with violent ramifications. In a Better World is a brilliant tale of conflicting moral choices, retribution, reconciliation and forgiveness in contrasting universes of a Sudanese refugee camp and a peaceful town in Denmark.