¨No one will dare hit me now.¨
Haevnen is the Danish film directed by Susanne Bier (Things We Lost in the Fire) that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Picture in 2011. My personal vote would have gone to the Canadian film, Incendies, which I thought was a masterpiece, but In a Better World is still a great film. I`m not sure if the translation ¨Haevnen¨ from Danish to English really means In a Better World but I thought this title fit the film perfectly considering how our actions really affect the world we live in a positive or negative way. We have the power to act in revenge against those who hurt us or we can decide to forgive them and try to make this world a better place. As we clearly see in the film written by Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen we are capable of both actions and sometimes there is a very thin line that divides one reaction from the other. We are capable of being very kind but at the same time we are also capable of being vengeful. Sometimes one small push can lead us into either direction. We see this clearly happen through the characters in this movie. I hadn’t watched a film directed by Bier before, but I did get to see the Hollywood remake of her film Brothers that stared Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire. Brothers was a great film so I will be looking forward to Bier`s next film. I really enjoyed the performances in this film, and even though the movie does seem to push the ending toward a direction where all the pieces fit perfectly pretty quickly, I still enjoyed the film very much and thought it was very thought provoking.
The story takes place mostly in Denmark between two different families that are connected in the film through the friendship of two boys. One is Elias (Markus Rygaard), a young boy who is being bullied at school who lives with his mother, Marianne (Trine Dyrholm) and his younger brother. Elias`s father is Anton (Mikael Persbrandt), a doctor who travels back and forth from Denmark to an African refugee camp. Marianne and Anton are going through a separation and it is affecting Elias. The other boy is Christian (William Johnk Nielsen) who recently moved from London to Denmark after the death of his mother. He moved in with his rich father Claus (Ulrich Thomsen) although their relationship is pretty sour. Claus is introduced at his new school where he meets Elias. After protecting Elias from a bully they become close friends and begin to spend time with each other. Christian is a vengeful kid who is still suffering from his mother`s loss, while Elias is very innocent and kind like his father. As the two kids begin to hang out with each other they are forced to make difficult decisions dealing with forgiveness and revenge. Anton will be forced with the same decision in his refugee camp when one of the rebel enemy leaders comes asking for help.
Markus Rygaard and William Johnk Nielsen, the two child actors are great in this film and they share a true chemistry together. I really enjoyed Mikael Persbrandt`s performance as well as the loving and kind father who is trying to win his wife back after being unfaithful to her. These characters all have flaws, but at the same time we see how they respond differently to similar circumstances. Some decide to act out in revenge, while others decide to be polite and forgive. The film tackles these issues as we go through a wide range of emotions. The film also deals with parenting and how some of the things parents say or do affect their child in a positive or negative way. They have the power to shape their child`s behavior. The movie isn’t afraid to tackle issues of violence and bullying as well. I really was able to connect with all these issues the film tried to explore including the different ways we deal with injustices and how we respond to them. I really enjoyed this powerful and emotional film and definitely recommend it to everyone.