In A Better World


In A Better World

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 121


Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,163
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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 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. -- (C) Sony Pictures Classics


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Critic Reviews for In A Better World

All Critics (121) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (94) | Rotten (27)

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

    Aug 19, 2011 | Rating: 4/5
  • 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.

    Aug 18, 2011 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • A compelling coming-of-age story and an intriguing examination of notions of masculinity.

    Aug 18, 2011 | Rating: 4/5
  • 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.

    Aug 17, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 3, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Simply put, this would be a better world if there were more films like In a Better World.

    May 6, 2011 | Rating: A+ | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for In A Better World

  • Jul 29, 2014
    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 H Super Reviewer
  • Jul 19, 2013
    Although uneven in its composition and sometimes unclear in its objectives until they are explained in the last 20 minutes, <i>Hævnen</i> is not one, but two messages of transcontinental value, one of personal decisions regarding moral, the other one of family distance in the presence of death and loss. The relevant message here regarding the families is that adult problems, mishandled priorities and break-ups are troubles destined to be transmitted to their children unless they are taken care of beforehand. Despite I would have liked to see more tied loose ends, the final product still invites to reflection. The strongest points are solid performances by the entire cast, including the youngest actors, and a respectable cinematography, factors that gave some extra points and making it reach a 4-star score by a marginal difference. 77/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Feb 09, 2013
    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 B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 07, 2013
    There was a lot going on in this film, by a favorite director, Susanne Bier (After the Wedding), and as in that earlier film, one of the characters works among desperate native people in Africa. Here it is a doctor who appears to work in an organization like doctors without borders. His son is tormented at school and is befriended by another boy who is dealing with the recent death of his mother that he blames his father for either causing or hastening. Both families are in trouble and largely unaware of how badly the problems of the grownups have affected the children. The cast is terrific, the story ranges wide, but never feels out of control. The cinematography captures the vast expanse of the African plains, the squalor of the refugee camp in Africa, and the insular nature of the Danish community where the boys live. Many issues are dealt with, but because of the masterful work of Ms Biers, it never feels unfocused. Tension builds as the pranks of the boys get more and more violent, until the explosive climax.
    Mark A Super Reviewer

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