This movie could have easily been written off as just another "feel bad for teens" flick, though I believe since only a small portion of the film takes place within school property, a different focus is put on the main characters than the simple angst-ridden garden variety.
"A Better Place" treads new ground in its focus on the scales of justice and the human response to personal trauma. Sparing the plot (because it doesn't really matter AND it's been said over and over throughout many reviews here), the general idea of the film is that though two people can share similar experiences, they won't necessarily grow from them similarly. Interpretation and what one takes from life's unfortunate circumstances are as varied as the clothes people can wear. In the case of our "heroes," Barret and Ryan, they may have become friends via a similar stroke of bad luck, their outlook on life in its basic form couldn't be any more different. Thus begins the ultimate conflict of the film.
The main driving point that the movie makes is that when you experience hardship in any form, either you learn from it, pick yourself up and move on with life with a better understanding of how to handle stress...or you allow it to bubble inside yourself; eventually letting it bring you to the point of desperation. "A Better Place" is philosophical, psychological and very, very simple as well. ..simply put, "a better place" may not be a literal reference to a location on a map where one may run to when looking to escape the torments of home or one's history.
It may be locked away deep in the mind or the heart. A little serenity surely would have helped Barret and Ryan in the long run.