Sunday, May 22, 2011

In a Better World (Rhoades)

“In a Better World”
Ranks as Best Foreign Film

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

     Don’t be put off by the subtitles, for this Danish drama won Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s 83rd Academy Awards. It also scored as Best Foreign Language Film at the 68th Golden Globes.
     “In a Better World” was originally titled “Hævnen,” which in Danish means “The Revenge.”
Here you will see revenge played on two levels – parents and children.
     This duality is also reflected in the film’s locales, as it follows a doctor between his home in an idyllic village in Denmark and a dusty refuge camp in Sudan.
     The cinematography is spectacular, capturing both the dramatic African landscapes and the small town scenes in Scandinavia.
     We first meet Anton (Mikael Persbrandt), a doctor who shuttles between his troubling life in Denmark and the troubled African country where lives are in his hands.
     His patients are often young women who have fallen victim to a sadistic warlord, a man who bets on the sex of an unborn child, then slices the expectant mother open to determine his win.
     When the warlord is brought to his tent hospital for a leg injury, Anton treats him. But when the doctor sees the warlord’s remorselessness, he turns the man over to villagers who hang him in revenge.
     Meanwhile, back at home, Anton’s twelve-year-old son Elias (Markus Rygaard) is being bullied at school until a new friend Christian (William JØhnk Nielsen) comes to his aid with a knife.
     And when his younger son gets into a schoolyard fight, Anton intercedes … only to be slapped by the other boy’s father. How can he prove to his children that he is not a coward?
     Elias and Christian form their own plans for revenge, setting the stage for an explosive ending.
     Director Susanne Bier describes the film as an experiment that explores “how little it really takes before a child – or an adult – thinks something is deeply unjust.” Her conclusion is, as she puts it, “scary.”
[from Solares Hill]

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