In A Better World (2011)
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Critic Reviews for In A Better World
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.
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.
Simply put, this would be a better world if there were more films like In a Better World.
Despite some weaknesses as both a film and a parable, "In a Better World" is a potent provocation.
An ethically ambitious, morally thoughtful - and deeply vexing - drama about the fragility of civil order and the menace of the lawless.
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.
Audience Reviews for In A Better World
A challenging meditation on how hurt-induced revenge and the intention of getting rid of a menace can overlap when someone looks for a motive to get even. It would have been much better, however, if it did not move its focus to a minor subject (in comparison) in the third act.
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.
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.
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