In A Better World (2010)

SUSANNE BIER

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB

Original title:  Haevnen

Denmark/Sweden, 2010.  , , , , , , , , , , , .  Story by Susanne Bier, , Screenplay by Anders Thomas Jensen, Supervising writer .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  Academy Awards 2010. European Film Awards 2011.  Golden Globe Awards 2010.  Toronto International Film Festival 2010.  

Director Susanne Bier’s penchant for soap opera pays off with this riveting, satisfying drama. Two boys become best friends when newly arrived Kristian feels sympathy for Swedish import Elias, who is constantly being picked on by bullies at their school in their small Danish town. Kristian has recently lost his mother, and the anger he feels for his father has pushed him towards a very staunch belief in black-or-white morality: those who oppress him in any way are met with high-intensity violent expressions that never have the clean outcomes that his indignation anticipates. Meanwhile, Elias’ father works overseas in Africa as a doctor, and his involvement in the local politics there sees him putting his own ideas of turning the other cheek, which he is trying to instill in the children, to the ultimate test. The film’s allegories and binary narrative structures are painfully obvious, but its method, while transparent, is also elegantly performed, never sentimental and so rippingly honest that you cannot help but be thoroughly sucked in by the entire enterprise. The performances are all outstanding.

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