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MOVIE REVIEW: In a Better World

The Oscar winning foreign film finally hits San Diego

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A couple of big comedies are opening this weekend. I’ll get to them…but first, let’s culture ya up a bit with a good foreign film. Last years Oscar’s was the first time in 10 years I haven’t done an Oscar pool. My friends were impressed with my predictions, but it was an easy year, with very few surprises. The one prediction I got wrong was Best Foreign Film. I thought Javier Bardem’s Biutiful would win. The winner was In a Better World and after I saw it, I can see why it won.

Denmark’s entry was an interesting story about a doctor in Denmark that does a lot of work at an African refugee camp. This puts a strain on his marriage. His son is also bullied and a new kid, Christian, knows just the way to deal with bullies. He has an equally problematic home life. His mom died of cancer, and he doesn’t think his dad minds the fact that she passed away.

In this day and age when we’re hearing so much about bullies – and as much as we all loved the video of the bully in Australia getting body-slammed by the big kid that was picked on -- this movie couldn’t have come out at a better time. Aside from the cinematography being great in this movie, I just liked the fact that the writing was top-notch. It really felt like the way the parents were dealing with their kids was so realistic. No movie clichés or unrealistic scenes.

There are some really powerful scenes in this. One of them involves a father trying to show his son that physically hurting a bully isn’t the answer. He tries to drive his point home by confronting a mechanic that had bullied him in front of the kids at a playground. The scene is utterly fascinating, partly because we think the son might be right.

I enjoyed the many conversations in the movie that the parents had with their kids. It seemed authentic. The child actors in this movie are fabulous, and make for a very provocative and interesting film.

I’m giving this a B-.