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In a Better World: Oscar-Feted Compassion Porn

If The King’s Speech was a comfy middlebrow choice for Best Picture of 2010, how much more depressing was the Academy’s squandering of Best Foreign Language Film on Susanne Bier’s In a Better World? Displaced tykes and bullies both macro and micro abound in this relentlessly pandering drama about a saintly Danish doctor (Mikael Persbrandt) who ministers to feuding Africans in a refugee camp while failing to notice that the suffering child (Markus Rygaard) of his broken marriage courts danger back home. 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. Can’t we all get along? Bier surely means well, but the road to compassion porn is paved with noble intentions, laced with a nakedly commercial appeal that flatters moviegoers with a vision of the West as Africa’s savior from itself. Bier and screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen began promisingly with the 2003 Dogme melodrama Open Hearts, but their collaborations have grown ever soapier, as the mawkish Brothers (2004) and the truly dire After the Wedding (2006) attest. Watch for news of a three-picture deal for Bier, a rising star of the mush that cocoons the American-indie mainstream.

 
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5 comments
Blackathena
Blackathena

Bravo. I am sick to death of poverty porn. I'd prefer a return to minstrelsy.

Poeticdrama
Poeticdrama

Seriously. This is the most biased, atrocious review I've ever read. To think that I want to become a film critic. I won't turn out like you.

IR1996
IR1996

what country is this movie?

VolkoffLA
VolkoffLA

I enjoyed this beautiful movie a lot. It will be obvious to most that it is not compassion porn, just as it is obvious that the review of it here, such as it is, wallows in cynicism, heartlessness, and compassion naïveté.

Martin Bergström
Martin Bergström

I can't believe what I'm reading here.I saw this movie yesterday and I think it was fantastic.

”...laced with a nakedly commercial appeal that flatters moviegoers with a vision of the West as Africa’s savior from itself.”

WHAT!? How can you interpret it that way?It's one doctor who decided to work in a in remote camp Africa. It has got nothing to with the west saving Africa. To me it's about care for human individuals and not involving any national or continental borders.

Let me try to tell you quickly why I like this film:

-Very good and convincing acting from all involved.-Beautiful film photography.-As story that stays interesting, slowly grows and then still manage to grow more and more during the whole film.

If one want to find ”holes” in the move it always works to do that, but I think this had very few. Overall I feel the behavior of the characters is very believable but of course it always works to question their behaviors (but that's also true for people in real life).

 

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