In a Better World

Having just won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, this provocative Danish parable from director Susanne Bier (After the Wedding) tries its luck at the U.S. multiplex, where drivel rules. Fight the power. Despite detours into sentiment and preaching, In a Better World is an emotional powerhouse. Anton (Mikael Persbrandt) is a divorced doctor of torn responsibilities. He frequently leaves his son, Elias (Markus Rygaard), at home in Denmark to work in Kenya among victimized women.

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That leaves troubled, timid Elias to form a bond with Christian (William Jøhnk Nielsen), the hot-tempered son of a father (Ulrich Thomsen) turned withdrawn by his wife's death. When Elias is harassed at school, Christian steps in with tragic results. Bier contrasts bullying at home with what Anton faces on a global scale. It's a big subject, fraught with traps, but Bier means to shake you and does.

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From The Archives Issue 1128: April 14, 2011
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