In a Better World [Blu-Ray] Susanne Bier

In a Better World [Blu-Ray] Susanne Bier
Amidst the explorations of Christian vengeance and the implied notion that evil stems from innocence, one of the most compelling things about Academy Award-winning Danish film In a Better World is the challenging of morals and ideals outside the vacuum of theory. Young Christian (William Johnk Nielsen) believes explicitly in the act of vengeance as a mode of righting a wrong, beating the crap out of a schoolyard bully that routinely teases Swedish outsider Elias (Markus Rygaard). His belief that people will only listen and learn if punished is juxtaposed against the peaceful idealism of Elias's father, Anton (Mikael Persbrandt), who firmly believes in helping all fellow men, talking things out and forgiving people for their shortcomings. While Elias stays in the middle, vacillating between ideologues, Christian concocts a plan to chastise an unapologetic and aggressive mechanic and Anton has to decide if he should medically treat a man that cuts foetuses out of women for fun. Essentially, Susanne Bier explores what happens when people are stretched to their limits, forced into the grey area between black and white. She does so with a calm, unembellished eye that never resorts to glib platitudes or standard didactics, which is commendable, especially considering how easily pious pedagogical material like this could. What's more is that the individual stories and relationships between the characters work on a narrative and dramatic level, keeping things engaging and entertaining in a traditionalist cinematic sense. It's easy to be invested in the minor discord between Elias and his mother, Marianne (Trine Dyrholm), just as we do the increased concern of Claus (Ulrich Thomsen) for his despondent, angry son, Christian. It's an impressive balance maintained throughout that's aided by continuously gorgeous cinematography – exploring the open skies of Africa and steely grey of Denmark – and thorough, thoughtful supporting performances from all the adult leads. In a Better World is an intelligent, important and uniquely memorable film that needs to be seen. The Blu-Ray is short on features, having a mildly informative commentary track with Bier, along with a brief interview. (Sony)