Metascore
65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 29
  2. Negative: 1 out of 29
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Apr 16, 2011
    63
    There are two strong stories here, in Africa and Denmark. Either could have made a film. Intercut in this way, they seem too much like self-conscious parables.
  2. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Mar 31, 2011
    75
    An emotional powerhouse.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Apr 3, 2011
    42
    It is not the redemptive uplift that I am objecting to here. It's the way that Bier manipulates us in order to send us aloft. She wants the world to be a better place. Fine. But what she has concocted here is an arty version of the same old Hollywood dumb-down dramaturgy. It just has a higher gloss.
  4. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Mar 30, 2011
    83
    A fine example of Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier's (Brothers) talent for weaving together accessible domestic melodrama and issues of ethical awareness of the world beyond our doorstep.
  5. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Mar 31, 2011
    90
    One of the places where In a Better World is especially successful is comparing and contrasting the moral worlds of children and adults, showing how difficult but essential it is for each group to learn from the other.
  6. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Apr 14, 2011
    38
    The movie is swept up in earnest self-importance.
  7. 50
    Bier dramatizes our ambivalence so earnestly that it's tempting to give her awards rather than admit that the movie is a crushing bore.
  8. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Apr 7, 2011
    50
    Bier allows her film to be buried by its own overwrought ambition.
  9. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Mar 31, 2011
    50
    Everything about In a Better World feels just a little too easy: a better movie might have let in more of the messiness of the world as it is. This one falls into cheap manipulation, winding up the audience with foreboding music and the spectacle of blond children in peril.
  10. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Apr 3, 2011
    65
    Bier appears to have a delicate touch with actors: In a Better World is loaded - perhaps overloaded - with nuance, and her performers never overdo a thing.
  11. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Apr 14, 2011
    50
    I hate to rap this serious-minded filmmaker, but I'm beginning to wonder whether her scripts aren't better realized when they're held in check.
  12. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Apr 28, 2011
    78
    There are no answers in her film, no intractable rights and wrongs. No characters are indicted for their mistakes or misjudgments, yet no one gets off scot-free either.
  13. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    May 12, 2011
    88
    Anton has a sad, gentle detachment that allows him to turn the other cheek literally through a series of slaps.
  14. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Apr 7, 2011
    75
    This meditation on violence explores the toxic knock-on effect of powerlessness and overcompensation, delivering a potent essay on the roots of society's most primal evils.
  15. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Apr 29, 2011
    83
    The acting is superb across the board, and the film moves dreamily yet with razor-sharp precision, building to a sequence of deeply felt climaxes.
  16. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Apr 15, 2011
    75
    Give director Susanne Bier full marks: Her encasing parable is brand new and immediately provocative.
  17. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Apr 1, 2011
    80
    World is grounded, offering up a rare case of well-earned hopefulness.
  18. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Apr 1, 2011
    75
    Director Susanne Bier's chilly morality play is slow to get started, but once established, its three parallel stories comment provocatively on one another.
  19. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    May 4, 2011
    88
    A most deserving Oscar winner and a film that could provoke discussion anywhere it is shown, anywhere people of any age are being bullied.
  20. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Apr 14, 2011
    70
    It's oddly emotionally detached, easier to admire than to become involved in.
  21. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Mar 29, 2011
    50
    Slick moralizing grows exponentially as the plot, wrapped in travelogue photography, transparently expository dialogue, and cheap thrills, drives home spurious parallels between the first and third worlds.
  22. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    May 6, 2011
    75
    Although it starts slowly, the accumulated tension and thematic resonance leaves us breathless.
  23. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Mar 29, 2011
    67
    Bier has done far more compelling work before, but the globe-spanning, life-affirming, morally upright trajectory of her latest accomplishment weakens its quality while sustaining its popularity. In a Better World is heavy, but it's also heavy-handed.
  24. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Apr 3, 2011
    70
    Above all, what makes the movie work -- what renders it not merely exhausting but fulfilling -- are the boys. Bier summons fine performances all around, but Nielsen, in particular, turns the role of christian into a drama all its own. [4 April, 2011, p. 82]
  25. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Mar 29, 2011
    40
    While Bier doesn't offer easy partisan answers, she still dilutes a social issue down to the level of soap-operatic background noise and back-patting platitudes. It-and we-deserve better.
  26. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Apr 1, 2011
    65
    After a few queasy moments at its midpoint, the trajectory of In a Better World becomes so relentlessly platitudinous that an audience that ought to feel seriously rattled will be settling back, feeling comfortably reassured.
  27. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Apr 7, 2011
    75
    The film about violence and retribution is a tough piece of work, subtle in some ways, obvious in others, viscerally affecting throughout.
  28. Reviewed by: Steve Ramos
    Mar 28, 2011
    80
    An artistically mature work with pitch perfect performances.
  29. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Mar 28, 2011
    80
    However didactic the film's final scenes, there's no denying the sheer dramatic intensity Bier achieves.
User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 37 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. May 1, 2011
    6
    One of the recurring themes on this season's "Glee" has been bullying. In this Oscar winner (Best Foreign Film), the Danes tackle the subjectâ
  2. Jun 8, 2014
    9
    "In A Better World" is a rich melodrama, richer than any melodrama in recent memory. It brings modern human themes into the deep, such as"In A Better World" is a rich melodrama, richer than any melodrama in recent memory. It brings modern human themes into the deep, such as family, marriage, parental, friendship, death, morality and professionalism. This film successfully mixing, comparing and contrasting two different world between adult and children and two strong stories in Africa and Denmark. Full Review »
  3. Jan 17, 2012
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Just a great film. Emotional, dramatic story about two different worlds (Denmark and Africa) and how violence exists in both of them. Great performances, great cinematography, well deserved Oscar (best foreign 2011). One thing that confuses me is the difference between the original title meaning revenge, and the English one. The later makes more sense and gives depth to the story as it opens a different perspective from the obvious one. With it in mind I thought of the movie as a fairy-tale of sort happening in a better world than the one we live in. No matter the dramatic events the film ends with a surprising happy end (just like in a Hollywood movie some would say, hence the Oscar win). In our harsh reality i'm sure the doctor would've been slayed by the warlord when he made demands on him. I mean these are people that butcher pregnant women for fun. Elias would've died - he was just so close to the car when it exploded, Christian would've jumped from the silos roof (cause there wouldn't be Elias's dad, the doc, to save him). Full Review »