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In A Better World (2011)

Mikael Persbrandt , Ulrich Thomsen, William Johnk, Juel Nielsen, Markus Rygaard Trine Dyrholm , Susanne Bier  |  R |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Mikael Persbrandt, Ulrich Thomsen, William Johnk, Juel Nielsen, Markus Rygaard Trine Dyrholm
  • Directors: Susanne Bier
  • Producers: Sisse Graum Jorgensen
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005KRYXAG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,939 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

The lives of two Danish families cross each other, and an extraordinary but risky friendship comes into bud. But loneliness, frailty and sorrow lie in wait.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crafted with Intelligence and Sensitivity April 21, 2011
Can revenge ever be justified or does violence simply lead to an ever-widening cycle of more violence? Should we use reason to confront an opponent or does turning the other cheek only make the problem worse? There are no easy answers in Suzanne Bier's In a Better World, winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film at the 2011 Oscars. It is a thought-provoking film about several subjects: bullying and how best to respond, parents who are too involved with their own problems to reach out to their children, and how the seeds of anger need to be addressed before they are acted out.

Written by Anders Thomas Jensen, In a Better World, whose Danish title is translated as "Revenge", begins on a dusty landscape in an unnamed African country as young children run after the car of Anton (Mikael Persbrandt), a volunteer doctor at a refugee camp. Violence rears its ugly head almost immediately as we see a young pregnant woman wheeled into the camp, the victim of mutilation by a tribal warlord. Later, Anton has to face a moral dilemma when he must confront the opposition of his nurses and assistants and decide whether or not to treat the badly wounded tribal leader responsible for the death and mutilation of so many women.

The scene then shifts back home in Denmark to a parallel incident (though obviously not on the same scale) where the doctor's pre-teen son, Elias (Markus Rygaard) is bullied by bigger students who call him "rat face" because he wears braces. The bullying is witnessed by a new boy, Christian (William Jøhnk Nielsen), who has just moved from London and who is still feeling the anger over his mother's recent death from cancer and his father's perceived indifference.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
I saw "In a Better World" --- this year's winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film --- in a theater with a dozen people.

This was in cosmopolitan New York.

The evening show on a weekday night.

Depressing.

Even more depressing when you consider that the director --- Susanne Bier --- is also the director of After the Wedding, an exceptional movie that was nominated for Best Foreign Film in 2007. (It lost to the German entry, "The Lives of Others.")

I don't rank film directors by the awards they get --- when I say that Ms. Bier is one of the greatest filmmakers on the planet, it's because that's what I really think. My reasons? Her movies are strong melodramas. Her actors are not beautiful in the way movie stars are beautiful --- no Botox, no surgery. The dialogue in her movies doesn't show off a screenwriter's cleverness. She doesn't telegraph the emotions she wants you to feel with music.

No wonder "In a Better World" has grossed just $230,000 in the United States.

If you stand outside a theater showing "In a Better World" and other movies and watch people leaving, you can easily identify who saw the Bier film --- they're the people who are silent. Slack-jawed. Maybe even weeping.

How is a Bier film different from a movie we all liked --- "The King's Speech," for example? Ah, that's the thing. There's no comparison. "The King's Speech" is entertainment: a formula movie, a buddy film. It's "Rocky" --- only here the underdog is the King of England. And the moral? You've heard it a zillion times: You can make it if you try.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A memorable masterwork! May 9, 2011
Since the days of Louis Malle's Au revoir les enfants in 1987, I had not watched such powerful film in which the leading voice would have been carried by two children.

The artistic greatness of the film resides in what concerns its multidimensional messsage. It deals with the enormous risk of leaving the children free with his own demons, on the other side the visible lack of communication between parents and sons, and the stubborness remarked over and over about the unerring ethic agaisnt the adversary so disturbing in the case of Elias' father, faced agaisnt the moral dilemma of saving the life of the nasty killer of the village or the infinite patience when deals with the mechanic.

Prized with the Golden Globe and The Academy as Best Foreign Film, the movie is beatifully filmed with towering performances, although we should make special mention about Christian, the driving force of the drama.

Denmark, once more returns for saying present (after its glorious golden decade with Babette's feast and Pelle the Conqueror and then with extraordinary films from the enigmatic and creative director Lars von Triers, such as Zentropa -one of my top ten films of the Nineties- Breaking the waves or Dogville) and Celebration.

A must-see.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sincerity and earnestness produce a very good film... October 11, 2011
Format:Blu-ray
There is no denying the message brought out in `In a Better World'. Susanne Bier (god, I love her) has a way of working with situations and actors to create such visceral chemistry. I've seen all of her works, and while `In a Better World' is far from her strongest (just watch `After the Wedding' and tell me it isn't one of the single greatest cinematic achievements of the past decade...I dare you) it still carries her trademark aura.

`In a Better World' explores a different theme for Bier. Here she tackles violence, its root and the steady escalation of untreated anger. It is within this theme, and the overall construction of its elements, that the film falters for me. While I find it more compelling than the lauded `A History of Violence', it doesn't quite capture the unsettling realities of violence that any one of Michael Haneke's masterpieces has done (especially `Cache'). Instead, `In a Better World' is a little too calculated for its own good. I actually loved the assessment given by the sites reviewer, Robert Horton. He states "this film is rendered with great care and each new strand of the plot is thought out and carefully placed...maybe, if anything, slightly too carefully placed--the story is so neatly plotted and balanced it comes close to being a closed system", and I concur with this sentiment. The film is so obvious in its construction that the eventualities bare less impact than they would if there was that element of surprise, and that element is a big one when considering violence as an act. Violence is often senseless and careless and unwarranted, and while this film touches on those areas (school bullies, ruthless warlords) it doesn't allow that energy to seep into the skin of the picture.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The acting in this movie is superb.
Published 27 days ago by Joan Rochlin
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story, great film, slim pickings
As a film concerned only with it's subjects this work succeeds - an artful, touching account of violence, consequences and mulling-over of the philosophy therein. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Matthew Bentley
5.0 out of 5 stars Good movie; great price
I particularly enjoyed the African segments of this movie. The movie overall is (IMHO) well acted and interesting; a little troubling in spots; maybe controversial. Read more
Published 2 months ago by CRW
4.0 out of 5 stars Parenting in Word and Deed
In a world filled with violence--individual, gang, tribal, state; in a world of great disparity between what adults say and what adults do; in a world where mass shootings have... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Carter
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Movie
This is a terrifically made movie - well deserved of all the awards it has received especially the (2011, Academy award for best Foreign film). Read more
Published 8 months ago by K. Distler
3.0 out of 5 stars Was this a Bergman film?
A very interesting story line, but it is SO depressing. Fortunately the end, if you stay with it, is rather uplifting but it takes a while to get there. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Dr.L.
5.0 out of 5 stars Am Glad I Saw It!
This movies has EVERYTHING, including Great Acting! If there is such a thing as a perfect movie, this may be it. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jim Altfeld
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and intelligent coverage of difficult emotions
Who has not felt the pain of an angry and vengeful response to something that has been suffered? This intelligent and thoughtful movie represents the different ways in which such... Read more
Published 10 months ago by SWD
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT
A good story with human emotions and very real situations. Ours is not a perfect world and this movie leaves you thinking is there a better world? Read more
Published 12 months ago by John Bacik
5.0 out of 5 stars Great lesson on compassion and forgiveness
This is a well scripted film with terrific African and European imagery. The story is told through the innocence of two very different boys. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jeffrey D. Cooke
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