The Role of Fractured Parents

Parents obviously play a major part in a child’s life from raising them to supporting them to giving them guidance; however, Taken and In a Better World focus on somewhat broken sets of parents and convey a message about their effect on the child. Both of these films demonstrate a correlation between the main conflict of the plot and the animosity or struggles between the two parents.

In Taken, Kim’s parents had been divorced for many years due to Bryan’s job as a “preventer” for the US government that constantly kept him away from home and in dangerous situations. Kim’s mother, Lenore, clearly blames him for the divorce and resents him for his demanding job saying:

“You sacrificed our marriage to the service of the country, you’ve made a mess of your life in the service of your country; can’t you sacrifice a little one time for your own daughter?”

Because she was the primary caretaker most of Kim’s life, Lenore felt like she had the better judgment over their daughter’s actions and decisions. His absence gave her the feeling of authority in the parenting department that he hated but yet couldn’t deny when she called him out for it:

“You won’t even know I’m there. I’m very good at being invisible.” -Bryan

“As you so amply demonstrated for the rest of her life.” -Lenore

It seems that the best Bryan could manage was his promise to always be there for her birthday, which he kept true to and had a photo album solely of birthday pictures to prove it. Although Bryan had the worldly knowledge and expertise, Lenore still hid Kim’s real motives for going to France and misled him into letting her go on a seemingly innocent international trip, which turned into a real catastrophe.

Both of the families that were featured in the Danish film In a Better World had fractured parents that contributed to the main issues with their sons. Christian’s mother died from cancer, but he struggled to accept her death and held a lot of angst towards his father blaming him for the mother’s death. This anger and frustration towards a man who was rarely home because of business in London translated into displaced hostility and aggression that created much of the conflict in the film. Elias, on the other hand, adored his father; however, Anton is absent a lot due to his job as a doctor in Africa. Like Bryan from Taken, his job, though honorable, kept him away from his family and created some dissonance. Elias’s parents were also separated (like Kim’s) except due to an affair that Anton had and broke his wife’s trust. When Elias is struggling with Christian’s idea of building a bomb, he tries to tell his father over a video chat, but the bad connection keeps Anton from hearing and somewhat confirms Elias’s choice to help and go through with bombing the van.

Despite all of the familial troubles in these two films leading up to the climax, the end of the movie brings about promising conclusions for all three sets of parents. When Kim and Bryan returned from France, Lenore and her new husband were much friendlier towards Bryan as she gave him a long hug thanking him and Stuart offered him a ride home. These acts may not seem like much, but compared to their interactions in the beginning of the movie, it was a big improvement. The concluding minutes of In a Better World brought about Christian’s forgiveness and improved relationship with his dad as well as a potential renewal of Elias’s parents’ marriage. Although these particular films do not feature conflicts that were direct results of the struggling parents, they seem to exhibit the message of happy parents lead happy families which are always a happy



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4 responses to “The Role of Fractured Parents

  1. kayleigh0812

    I thought it was interesting that you brought up this point in both films. There was also another case of the broken family as seen in The Virgin Spring. Karin’s parents seem to have a broken relationship. It is interesting to bring up the issue of families in the cases of revenge. Do the acts that spark revenge mainly happen to broken families in films? Also you brought up the point that in the end it leaves a promising outlook. It may lead to relationships being mended. So this brings up another interesting aspect to look at when viewing these family revenge films. Does the act of violence actually lead to something good or promising in the end?

  2. I think the reason revenge often occurs in broken families because there is less emotional support in these families and the person who is seeking revenge has less to lose. I think acts of revenge can prove/strengthen loyalties which can in turn bring about positive changes in the family dynamic.

  3. towarnic

    I felt that Lenore’s ignorance was one of the main reasons Kim and her friend found themselves in a dangerous and deadly situation. She refused to listen to Bryan’s concerns about their daughter traveling abroad. I agree that he of all people would have known the possible dangers in France or other European countries. I think that Lenore was naive in assuming that nothing bad would happen to her daughter and friend abroad. Nevertheless, all of the blame can’t be placed on Lenore. Kim was also responsible since she lied to her father about the trip.

  4. leariej

    This is a very good and complex point made in both of these movies. The fractured parents in these movies not only opens up the opportunity for them to make amends throughout the movie, but also to represent a contemporary aspect of life in which many separated families today are a part of. In the end, it seems these two men bring their families back together with their actions against revenge in the movie.

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