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

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Movie Info

Anton (Mikael Persbrandt) is a doctor who travels frequently between his home in Denmark and a refugee camp in Africa. His domestic life is complicated by the fact that he and his wife, Marianne (Trine Dyrholm), are experiencing marital strife and his son, Elias (Markus Rygaard), is a victim of school bullying. When a new boy, whose mother recently died, moves to town and befriends Elias, it provides solace for both father and son. After a reckless act, however, things turn tragic.

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Critic Reviews for In a Better World

All Critics (122) | Top Critics (49) | Fresh (95) | Rotten (27)

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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