Monday, October 17, 2011

In a Better World

A young boy is grieving the loss of his mother and relocates from London to a pastoral Danish town. At his new school, she stands up for a bullied kid whose parents are going through a separation. As the two form a bond, they engage on a quest of retribution against an adult who had accosted one of their parents, a pacifist who works as a missionary in a violent African village. Susanne Bier's "In a Better World" is an excruciating exercise in sentiment and pretension and inexplicably won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film this past year. Shot vapidly in what should have been a more luminescent Dutch countryside, the film is a solemn and incredibly obvious treatise on courage, bullying, control, revenge, etc. The acting is matter-of-factly and amateurish and the scenes set in Africa do not work at all with the rest of the story. Bier clearly has good intentions here but her presentation is almost insulting. Maybe in a better world we won't have to endure such pompous drivel.