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In A Better World (2011)


Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 115
Fresh: 89
Rotten: 26

Critics Consensus: In a Better World is a sumptuous melodrama that tackles some rather difficult existential and human themes.

Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 33
Fresh: 25
Rotten: 8

Critics Consensus: In a Better World is a sumptuous melodrama that tackles some rather difficult existential and human themes.


Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 6,892


Movie Info

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 … More

R (for violent and disturbing content some involving preteens, and for language)
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Anders Thomas Jensen
In Theaters:
Aug 30, 2011
Box Office:
Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for In A Better World

All Critics (115) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (89) | Rotten (26)

True, the resolutions on offer seem conventionally pat, yet the tough questions stay with you in an absorbing drama which pushes the viewer's buttons with effective intelligence.

Full Review… | August 17, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

Susanne Bier's latest meditation on grief and the boundaries of family -- which won this year's foreign-film Oscar -- is a tough piece of work, subtle in some ways, obvious in others, viscerally affecting throughout.

Full Review… | June 3, 2011
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Simply put, this would be a better world if there were more films like In a Better World.

Full Review… | May 6, 2011
Detroit News
Top Critic

Despite some weaknesses as both a film and a parable, "In a Better World" is a potent provocation.

Full Review… | May 6, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

An ethically ambitious, morally thoughtful - and deeply vexing - drama about the fragility of civil order and the menace of the lawless.

Full Review… | April 29, 2011
Denver Post
Top Critic

Asks worthwhile questions about how fathers can best lead their sons, about the expectations placed on men by society and about their struggles with their inner violent impulses, which can lay so dormant and unnoticed, then, in a frightening rush, explode.

Full Review… | April 27, 2011
Miami Herald
Top Critic

There's little flash or surprise in Bier's latest well-shot film, but plenty of substance.

Full Review… | August 15, 2013
The Playlist

A most deserving Oscar winner and a film that could provoke discussion anywhere it is shown, anywhere people of any age are being bullied

Full Review… | January 11, 2013
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Film defies conventional expectations about biblical notions of retribution, even as it initially prepares you to accept them. A truly complex work of art.

Full Review… | March 11, 2012

Un estupendo drama contemporáneo sobre algunos de los conflictos más básicos que acechan a hombres y mujeres de bien en cualquier rincón del mundo.

Full Review… | November 27, 2011
Uruguay Total

It would have worked better if it weren't so obvious and manipulative. About halfway through, it plays more like a diagram of lessons learned than a movie about real people dealing with complicated problems.

Full Review… | October 27, 2011

The microcosm of the children's world is exceptionally well drawn.

Full Review… | September 26, 2011
Eye for Film

In addition to being safe and non-threatening, Bier's film finds time to throw in mentions of cancer and divorce, and images of poor children starving in Africa. It's pretty much a recipe for an Oscar.

Full Review… | September 16, 2011
Combustible Celluloid

Essentially an essay about bullying ( ... ) and the abuse of power, it will probably be appreciated most by people who want to keep up with [Susanne] Bier's maturing catalogue.

Full Review… | September 4, 2011
Birmingham Mail

It's well made but too flawed to be a satisfying cinematic experience.

Full Review… | September 1, 2011
Birmingham Post

The superb acting - the youngsters are particularly good - and Bier's sympathetic direction help overcome the occasional lapse into melodrama.

Full Review… | August 25, 2011
Radio Times

Though the performances are excellent, it aint no Dogtooth.

Full Review… | August 24, 2011
The Skinny

The film is built on strong performances and some powerful moments, though its subtleties risk being eclipsed by contrived emotional pyrotechnics.

Full Review… | August 24, 2011

The movie holds your attention, but you leave discussing the manipulative plot rather than the moral issues it raises.

Full Review… | August 22, 2011
Observer [UK]

A thought-provoking, powerfully acted and resonant exploration of rough justice in the modern world...

Full Review… | August 19, 2011
Daily Express

Bier's strength is storytelling and her ability to find actors to do those stories justice.

Full Review… | August 19, 2011
This is London

I wished I liked it more. But, for all its good points, this film is a high-concept contrivance of the sort Bier turns out easily, and looks like a faintly preposterous cine-soap opera for haemophiliac-hearted liberals.

Full Review… | August 18, 2011

A well-acted if glibly configured statement about violence begetting violence on two continents.

Full Review… | August 18, 2011
Daily Telegraph

Bier, when she allows herself, loves the peripheral as much as the portentous. She understands that an image can tell more than words, more than even 1,000.

Full Review… | August 18, 2011
Financial Times

Director Bier and her regular screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen construct a believable series of events where notions of Western civilisation as opposed to Third World moral disarray are put to the test.

Full Review… | August 18, 2011
Sky Movies

A compelling coming-of-age story and an intriguing examination of notions of masculinity.

Full Review… | August 18, 2011
Little White Lies

Audience Reviews for In A Better World


Two boys attempt to define masculinity in response to their respective family dramas.
This Danish film is oddly both ambitious and contained. Its plot centers around only two families, one wracked by divorce, the other by death, but as the two male children of these families mature, we see that they're struggling with deep and difficult questions. What constitutes "being a man?" What examples do fathers and mothers provide their kids? Where is the line between being a disciplinarian and being a child's friend? What are parents' roles in preventing violence? These are ambitious ethical questions the plot brings up, but as a result of the film's reach philosophically, the plot starts to suffer when each of the film's conflicts resolve too conveniently.
Overall, this is a fine, ambitious, and interesting film until its pat conclusion.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Susanne Bier is one of the greatest directors ever. Simple as that. Her films deal with issues, but always with a fresh perspective. In A Better World has a young boy called Christian who has just lost his mother, return to Denmark. He joins a new school where he soon makes friends with a boy who is being bullied. Christian allows his anger to take hold, and events soon spiral out of control. The theme of bullying may seem like something best saved for after school specials, but Bier shows bullying in all its forms, from the playground, to grown ups, to African warlords. Questioning anger, revenge, and human rights, makes this a multi-layered film which is just begging for discussion. The performances are magnificent across the board and each character has a very well structured arc. With so much going on it would be easy for the film to trip over itself, but it never does. Touching, inspirational, and quite possibly life changing. In A Better World could honestly make the world a better place.

Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

A awesome film about a doctor who lives in Denmark but spends most of his life in Africa at a refugee camp. We see his life at home, his son and wife's dealing with life and him being gone and him fighting the local war lord who is raiding villages and taking children for his own little military. 4 Stars. 6-19-12

Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

When, if ever, is violence the necessary choice of action? This movie explores the question on school grounds, a public park, and an African refugee camp. We have a young child who strictly believes in overwhelming retribution towards an offender as the only way to change their behavior. Then there is a father who is a surgical doctor and believes in non-violence. We follow both of them as they see their natures put to extreme tests. The child's story becomes quite ridiculous and unbelievable - really the whole last third of the movie relies on more and more unlikely developments to resolve the story, consequently marginalizing the question for the sake of drama. Still, the rest of the movie is an interesting opportunity to wrestle with our own nature and ask where our own line is drawn.

Matthew Slaven
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

In A Better World Quotes

No one will dare hit me now.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
Hi Dad!
Hi sweetie, did we agree to talk today?
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)

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