Let the Happiness In: In a Better World and Let Me In
A similar incident is found at the heart of Swedish
drama In a Better Worldand American horror film Let Me In, and in both instances serves as a catalyst
for much of what is come: a child is relentlessly bullied by his
comrades at school. Let Me Inuses this confrontation
as the jumping-off point for a spine-tingling horror flick,
while In a Better World, the cruel treatment of a boy
by his peers heads into family-drama territory.
In a Better World is a Danish drama by
Oscar-nominated director Susanne Bier, written in collaboration
with screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen. Bier and Jensen have
previously collaborated on Open
Hearts (2002), Brothers (2004)
and After the Wedding (2006). The filmfollows
two Danish families brought into close proximity as a result of the
recently formed friendship between Christian (William Johnk
Nielsen) and Elias (Markus Rygaard), two ten-year-old boys who are
each coping with their own sets of issues. Elias is dealing with
his parents' recent separation, as well as a school bully who's
dubbed him "Rat Face." Christian's mother recently succumbed to
cancer, and the boy blames his father (Ulrich Thomsen) for giving
up on her.
Christian is slowly and inexorably hardening into a harsh
manifestation of masculinity. He stands up for Elias at school, and
goes as far as to threaten the bully with a hunting knife. He won't
be bothering them again, but this particular case of revenge gone
"good" will prove quite costly.
An interesting cinematic movement marks the precise point at
which the film tips into violence: as Christian searches for
material for a school project in his grandfather's garage, he
stumbles upon a large stash of fireworks. As he reaches for the
highly inflammable material, the camera suddenly lunges forward,
with a sudden jolt that seems to indicate the agitation to
Reflecting upon this, Bier said: "I use a hand-held-camera so
that actors can move around freely, because I want them to be
truthful at all times. That means they should be able to move and
not be bound by a fixed camera position. I think that it would be a
mistake to use this technique for style. The hand-held-camera is
there to do something very specific."
Matt Reeves' Let Me In is based on the 2008
Swedish film Let the Right One In, adapted by
director Tomas Alfredson from John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel of the
same name. Set in a New Mexico town in the early 1980s, this second
adaptation tells the story of a 12-year-old boy who develops a
friendship with a vampire child.
Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee, spotted on the red carpet of the ADFF
last Monday…) is bullied by his classmates and neglected by his
divorcing parents. Achingly lonely, he spends his days plotting
revenge on his middle school tormentors and his evenings spying on
the other inhabitants of his apartment complex. His only friend is
his new neighbor Abby (Chloe Moretz), a strangely self-possessed
young girl who lives next door with her silent father
(Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins).
Abby emerges from her heavily curtained apartment only at night,
always barefoot, and apparently immune to the bitter winter.
Recognizing a fellow outcast, Owen opens up to her and before long
the two of them strike a unique bond, albeit one which results in