In a Better World Director: Susanna Bier (2010) Call Number: DVD-V LD12-0425
Image: Courtesy of Rialto Distribution
Infamously derided by Lars von Trier during Cannes Film Festival - “I thought I was a Jew for a long time and was very happy being a Jew. Then later on came Susanne Bier and then suddenly I wasn’t so happy about being a Jew” -, Bier is most famous for making one of the best Dogme 95 films, Open Hearts.
In a Better World is about a humanitarian Swedish doctor who treats the victims of a warlord in Africa and his complicated home life in Denmark, where his young son Elias copes with bullies at school. Elias makes friends with Christian, who has just relocated from London with his father after his mother died of cancer. When Christian sees Elias is being harassed, he intervenes in an unexpectedly violent way serious enough to trigger a police inquest.
Although critics agree that Bier is a serious-minded filmmaker with well intentions, the reviews are mixed. Village Voice columnist Taylor wrote “Bier surely means well, but the road to compassion porn is paved with noble intentions, laced with a nakedly commercial appeal that flatters moviegoers with a vision of the West as Africa's savior from itself” (2011). However others were more enthusiastic: “Simply put, this would be a better world if there were more films like In a Better World” (Long, 2011).
In a Better World won the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film as well as the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards.
Long, Tom. “Oscar-winner 'In a Better World' displays brutal beauty”. Detroit News. http://www.detroitnews.com. 6 May. 2011.
Taylor, Ella. "In a Better World: Oscar-Feted Compassion Porn”. Village Voice. http:// http://www.villagevoice.com. 30 March. 2011.