Wednesday, 23 November 2011

In a Better World

This is a film I've been waiting to watch for a long time. It has weaknesses, but is a very well done film: beautifully filmed and acted. The story is slow but powerful and, except for a few moments, unpredictable. Strong themes are touched on - especially that of responding to violence and to tragedy. In fact, the unique way those two themes are tied together is one of the strengths of the film. Early on, one boy's response to tragedy leads him to violence that saves another boy - but is that the right response? The film is very even-handed with these kinds of choices. Difficult choices in the film where violence is opposed on principle are left messy and the viewer is forced into the romance-free difficulty of such choices. Are we really strong enough to do non-violence well? Or do we simply substitute social/verbal violence - or leave the dirty work to others?

The film is deeply European in so many respects. I could be completely out to lunch because I have not spent any recent time in Scandinavia, but it feels like a taste of some of their current paradoxes: a strong culture of non-violence and protection of human rights, but violence still simmers below the surface and there is a cool secularism that makes it all feel a little barren and devoid of some of the potent stories, symbols and Spirit that could breathe life more deeply into the lives of good and kind people. There's such an underlying tone of loneliness or of the pain and alienation that keeps people apart that I longed for every moment of connection. Fortunately there are some deep moments of that. I would give this ***+


  1. I own this film and would have beaten you to watching/reviewing it, but my blu-ray player won't play it (perhaps it's just a firmware update that is required). Of course, I can't read your review until I have watched the film, but your rating inspires me to find a way to watch it soon.

  2. Great European film. Strong scrip. Good actors.
    very recommended to watch.

  3. I finally watched it! Your review is spot-on but I liked In a Better World even more than you did. Gorgeously filmed, beautifully acted and incredibly thought-provoking - your comments are just the beginning of a long discussion. This is what filmmaking is capable of at its best. I own but have not yet watched two other Bier films, which are now high on my list. **** and should have been in my top ten of 2011 (sigh).