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In a Better World (2010)

Hævnen (original title)
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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.

Director:

Susanne Bier

Writers:

Anders Thomas Jensen (screenplay), Susanne Bier (story) | 2 more credits »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 11 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mikael Persbrandt ... Anton
Wil Johnson ... Najeeb (as Will Johnson)
Eddy Kimani Eddy Kimani ... Patient (as Eddie Kimani)
Emily Mulaya Emily Mulaya ... Sygeplejerske
Gabriel Muli Gabriel Muli ... Læge
June Waweru June Waweru ... Sygeplejerske
Mary Ndoku Mbai Mary Ndoku Mbai ... Patient (as Mary Nduku Mbai)
Dynah Bereket Dynah Bereket ... Gammel dame
William Jøhnk Nielsen ... Christian (as William Jøhnk Juel Nielsen)
Ulrich Thomsen ... Claus
Elsebeth Steentoft Elsebeth Steentoft ... Signe
Satu Mikkelinen Satu Mikkelinen ... Hanna (as Satu Helena Mikkelinen)
Camilla Gottlieb ... Eva
Simon Maagaard Holm Simon Maagaard Holm ... Sofus
Emil Nicolai Helms Emil Nicolai Helms ... Sofus' skolekammerat
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Storyline

Anton is a doctor who commutes between his home in an idyllic town in Denmark, and his work at an African refugee camp. In these two very different worlds, he and his family are faced with conflicts that lead them to difficult choices between revenge and forgiveness. Anton and his wife Marianne, who have two young sons, are separated and struggling with the possibility of divorce. Their older, ten-year-old son Elias is being bullied at school, until he is defended by Christian, a new boy who has just moved from London with his father, Claus. Christian's mother recently lost her battle with cancer, and Christian is greatly troubled by her death. Elias and Christian quickly form a strong bond, but when Christian involves Elias in a dangerous act of revenge with potentially tragic consequences, their friendship is tested and lives are put in danger. Ultimately, it is their parents who are left to help them come to terms with the complexity of human emotions, pain and empathy. Written by Sisse Graum Jørgensen, Producer

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent and disturbing content some involving preteens, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Denmark | Sweden

Language:

Danish | Swedish | English | Arabic

Release Date:

26 August 2010 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

In a Better World See more »

Filming Locations:

Fåborg, Fyn, Denmark See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$33,058, 3 April 2011

Gross USA:

$1,008,098

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$13,004,198
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It took just three weeks in Danish cinemas for the film to turn a profit, according to the studio Zentropa. See more »

Goofs

Eva's hands change position on Christian's face when she is holding him in the hospital corridor. See more »

Quotes

Christian: If you hit them hard enough the first time they won't dare to hit you again.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 83rd Annual Academy Awards (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Cruel to Be Kind
25 April 2011 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. As is customary, the Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language film finally makes it to Dallas in April AFTER the awards show is long forgotten (well, except for the half-assed hosting job by James Franco). Denmark's entry, directed by Susanne Bier (Things We Lost in the Fire), is overflowing with every human emotion one can imagine. However, the battle between two emotions is most prevalent: misplaced revenge and forgiveness.

At it's core, this is a story of two fathers and two sons. The presentation is quite odd in that it tries desperately to tie in all spectrum of human emotion and economic standing. Anton (Mikael Persbrandt from the excellent 2008 "Everlasting Moments") travels back and forth between an African refugee camp where he serves as a doctor, and his upscale Denmark home where he is separated from his wife and trying to set a good example for his son Elias (Markus Rygaard).

The other father is Claus (Ulrich Thomsen) whose relationship with his son Christian (William Johnk Nielsen) is flat out terrible. Christian's mother has recently lost her battle with cancer and it has caused a rift between these two ... and lit a fire of anger in young Christian.

Soon enough Christian stumbles upon Elias being bullied at school. His flaming temper sets the bully straight with a violent act, creating a bond between Elias and Christian. Sadly Christian continues to spin off axis and he drags Elias along.

As a doctor in the camp, Anton constantly strives to repair the despicable acts of the local town bully. This is used to contrast with what's going on with his own son at home. There are many parts of the film that are difficult to watch, especially as Christian just loses his grip on reality.

While I certainly see the excellence in the film, I believe the filmmakers tried too hard to stage the contrast. The story of the boys was plenty powerful enough to carry a film. Also, the doctor in the camp could have made a chilling movie on it's own. Instead we gets bits of each and that's fine ... just not what it might have been.


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