In a Better World

May 8, 2011 No Comments

by Jolyn Wagner

Susanne Bier’s Oscar winning film is actually titled “Haeven” in Danish..sounds like “heaven” but actually means “revenge”  Don’t confuse the two!  This is a complicated film that explores the nature of revenge–bullying actually–whether it plays out between lonely schoolboys or sadistic warlords–a scope that ultimately dimishes the film.   The film unfolds the story of  sensitive schoolboys Elias(a hapless victim of the local bully) and Christian(the new kid who meets such bullying with his own brute force and retaliation.)  Bier’s uses the boys dilemma and Christian’s increasingly violent repsonses to explore the nature of bullying.  Sensitive Elias’s father is a physician who works bravely and tirelessly in an unnamed African state whose people are ruthlesslby tortured by a (bullying) evil warlord.  Absent, but well-meaning fathers and dead mothers(Christian’s mother has just died a horrible cancer death and he blames his father) escalate the drama through which Biers continues to ask us to ponder how to stop the bullying.  Turn the other cheek?  Bombs? (mini spoiler alert).  Although the story may resolve a bit too tidily, this is a serious film with alot of  Susanne Bier heart, which may or may not dilute it’s power.  Let the discussion begin.  jww

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