“In a Better World” (winner of the 2011 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film) takes place in a beautiful village in Denmark where Anton is a doctor who travels between his home and a Sudanese refugee camp where he performs surgery for the most heinous of crimes in a bloody civil war. He and his family are faced with conflicts of their own: his son, Elias, who is angry at his parents’ pending divorce and at being bullied at school; and Marianne, who cannot forgive Anton’s affair.
Christian, a quiet and sullen ten-year old and Elias quickly become friends when Christian confronts some school bullies. When Christian involves Elias in a dangerous act of revenge, their friendship is tested, lives are put in danger, and their parents must face their own failure.
Directed by the idiosyncratic Susanne Bier (“Love is All You Need”), the battle presented is between revenge and forgiveness. The boys’ story and their parents’ frustration and anger are powerful and understandable, if not quite sympathetic. What Susanne Bier does is contrast people who are instinctively cruel with those who are instinctively kind. The outcome is surprising and unpredictable. A superb and original film!