In A Better World is the latest film from Susanne Bier, the Danish director responsible for the previously Oscar nominated After the Wedding and the American-produced Things We Lost in the Fire. In A Better World joins her growing filmography of exceptional work.

No doubt about it, In A Better World is an extremely powerful film. The actors are of the finest caliber. Mikael Persbrandt shows audiences, once again, why he is such a popular international actor. If you saw Everlasting Moments, Sweden’s Oscar contender in 2008, then you will certainly recognize him. Trine Dyrholm plays his wife, and it is a performance that is equally mesmerizing and, at times, blisteringly emotional. These leads, along with the central performances of child actors Markus Rygaard and William Jøhnk Nielsen, anchor the film in such believability that the narrative completely consumes you from start to finish.

The film is a drama concerning two different families and what their impressionable sons learn about revenge and, ultimately, empathy. One family has just lost the mother to cancer. The other family is threatening to tear apart after the husband is found having an adulterous relationship. Both of these things happen before the movie even starts, as it isn’t interested in those particular events, which are so often portrayed in contemporary drama, but what it focuses on instead is how those events go on to affect the lives of everyone involved.

The film is careful in its examination of good and bad, pacifism and violence, and it offers a lot to think about far after the film has ended. You will definitely come away wondering about these characters and the decisions that they make. Themes like revenge are so very often utilized as mere exploitation, so it is refreshing to see it handled with such judicious care. In A Better World deserves the accolades it is getting, and in today’s entertainment, when action and violence is often without consequence, it certainly deserves an audience.