A few years ago I would have passed at the opportunity to watch a Foreign film, but with the popularity of Asian horror and the huge success of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, Foreign films are becoming more appealing. So much in fact that some of my favourite films of the last couple years are Foreign.
Academy Award winning Foreign film “In A Better World” (originally called Hævnen) is a Danish film shot using a combination of Danish, Swedish and English to tell the story of two families as their lives cross each other through an extraordinary but risky friendship between their sons Elias and Christian. The friends and families are faced with conflicts that lead them to difficult choices between revenge and forgiveness.
Elias, who is also facing a divorce between his parents, 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.
I was disheartened to learn that director/writer Susanne Bier is considered too commercial in her home country of Denmark. In A Better World is actually a gritty film with a very human and very real story, and that’s nowhere near the commercialism we see every day here in North America. And in today’s film world, anything made with the $5M budget Bier had is considered independent by our standards.
It’s a tear jerker of a movie at its heart, but around it all is the complexity of human emotions, pain and empathy. Morten Søborg’s cinematography is brilliant throughout the film and Bier has taken her audience on a twisted emotional journey for a couple hours. In A Better World tests our perception of what is considered just and fair as we discover how adults and children deal with bullies through the pain and suffering of Elias, Christian and their families.