See this film: “In a Better World” (2010)

14 October 2011

I’m feeling so sheepish for having skipped seeing this for so long — because I’m so blown away by this film’s simplicity and elegance. There’s something so unnerving about the blue, blue eyes of these Scandinavian men as they perceive the world around them and try to make sense of it. Its themes about the nature and inevitability of violence, the psychology of revenge, and the sources of petty cruelty are painted so exactly and without decoration that I can’t believe it has never been done before. Most moving for me is young Elias (Markus Rygaard), whom the mean boys call “Rat Face” at school; but equally touching is his father (Mikael Persbrandt, above) who’s determined to model gentleness and gentlemanliness to his sons. Beautiful, stunning: it’s exactly right that Danish director Susanne Bier has won the Oscar and all those piles of other awards. I don’t even want to ramble on about it — just see it.

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6 Responses to “See this film: “In a Better World” (2010)”

  1. servetus Says:

    Persbrandt has been cast in The Hobbit 🙂

  2. Didion Says:

    Okay, let’s just say that I’m considering him for our panel of judges in the kissing contest that we discussed over at your site.

  3. tam Says:

    Wow. I’ve just gone to my library site to put a hold on this film. It’s on order and there is already a queue of 56! And I hadn’t heard of this movie until I read your post.

    Also, just wanted to share the words on a placard held up by a young woman on Saturday’s Occupy Vancouver:

    Welcome to the global paradigm shift.

    Yay. And it sounds like this film could be part of that shift.

    • Didion Says:

      This film has been on my mind ever since I saw it — and I’m more inclined to say that Bier is proposing a global paradigm shift but only in the most sneaky and subtle of ways. I think it’s ultimately about the dead-endness of our contemporary views of manliness. I can’t look at any of these “manliness” ads — like the appalling new Dr. Pepper Ten commercial (not for women! ten manly calories!) without seeing In A Better World as the logical outcome of that thinking. But the way Bier gets to that topic is way more subtle and gentle than I’m describing.


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