In a Better World (Hævnen in Danish) has won many awards, including the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards. It’s easy to see why. The acting is superb, the story subtle and moving, and the relationships between the characters beautifully drawn. It avoids all the usual cliches and exaggerated characterisation that you find is so many films these days. The film is the story of two school friends in a small Danish town, and of their families. Elias is bullied at school; his parents are in the process of separating, and his father spends a large amount of time working as a doctor in a Sudanese refugee camp where he is confronted to his own issues. Christian is Elias’ mate; he has just lost his mother and blames his father for her passing. As a consequence of his mother’s loss, he has become aggressive and dangerous, with a steely attitude. He will drag Elias into doing things they may regret for the rest of their lives.
In a better World was directed by Susanne Bier and released in 2010. It features Mikael Persbrandt, Trine Dyrholm and Markus Rygaard.
I have finally finished reading Hong Kong Murders, by Kate Whitehead. It relates fourteen homicides that have taken place in Hong Kong over the years. Hong Kong is one of the safest places in the world, so I was interested to find out what these murders were. Also, it is part of research that I am currently conducting for my next novel. The murders described in the book were driven by money, sex or revenge. Some of them were linked to the famous Hong Kong triads, others to kidnapping, or even simple shootings. Whitehead goes through each case, describing the murder scene, then moving on to the inquiry, and sometimes the trials that followed. To be honest, it’s not very exciting. Maybe the material itself is deficient, with Hong Kong being such a safe place, and the Chinese culture not being a violent one. Chinese will usually satisfy themselves with oral arguments and are reluctant to move on to physical fighting. One feature of Hong Kongers is that they don’t like to “get involved” and don’t like to mingle with other people’s businesses. As a consequence of that, I was horrified to learn that an estimated forty people passed the body of a woman who had been raped and strangled before anyone called the police. Worse still, included in these forty passers-by were her neighbours! Whitehead does an okay job, but we don’t really get into the murderer’s heads or their families’, and we often don’t understand their real motives. The killings themselves are left in the dark and more emphasis is put on the inquiry. It left me with a feeling of wanting more, and not having learned enough. In fact, I feel Whitehead struggled to make the material interesting. It is obvious from the book that she has done an enormous amount of research and interviewed the protagonists, but this is not enough to make the book very exciting. Two stars.
Filed under Books, Hong Kong