Dir. Susanne Bier. Denmark. 2010.

Talking Pictures alias







About Us


In spite of other competing more notable films, Biutiful for instance, In A Better World won the 2011 Best Foreign Language Film at this years Academy Awards surprising many people.

The film now gets its English release, from Axiom Films, and it is a compelling picture full of ideas and theories about violence and pacifism.

Anton (Mikael Persbrandt) works for Medecins Sans Frontieres in a war-torn country of Africa, where he regularly treats pregnant women who are mutilated by a warlord who bets on the sex of the foetus before birth.  When said warlord himself becomes injured, should the good doctor treat a man who has killed a woman he could not save.  Such moral dilemmas abound in this film. 

Our good doctor is currently separated from his beautiful wife, Marianne (Trine Dyrholm) yet remains close to his children.  His youngest, Elias (Markus Rygaard) is being bullied at school and only finds refuge through the friendship of the new boy, Christian (William Johnk Nielsen) who confronts and stands up to the bully.

Anton then encounters a local ruffian who slaps him in front of the children.  His passivity to the attack, and his argument that if he fights back he is but merely the equal of this lout, serves notice to the children.  And yet here is where the films message becomes hazy - violence begets violence, and the case is made clear by young Christian's actions where the innocent get injured.

However, for all the moral quandry and minefield of social troubles, the film remains a brilliantly acted film by a sterling cast who although spending a lot of the time in humdrum poses do exhibit a warmth when required.  Susanne Bier constructs a telling observation of the slowly decaying nuclear family - all of the characters are touched by abandonment, divorce and/or death, and yet Bier has a track record in deconstructing family relationships - After The Wedding (2006), Brothers (2004)

The cinematography by Morten Soborg of both the harsh desert in Africa and the lush countryside of suburbia in Denmark is shot expertly and gives a real stillness to proceedings in contrast to the many questions abounding on screen. 

Given greater credence following the tragic events in the neighbouring Scandanavian country of Norway, In A Better World shows that violence may well get results but ultimately it is the last resort when communication breaks down, or violence is a sign of weakness of the socially inept.

The original title of the film Haeven may look like Heaven, but is in fact 'Revenge', the filmmakers cleverly chose a better English-language title - as the sheer optimism of its title means an audience familiar with Bier's oeuvre will guarantee an arthouse audience.
Jamie Garwood

Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
Site searchWeb search
   Home | News | Features
    Book Reviews | About Us