Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe
Review Author: Tony
Synopsis: Four teacher friends each find that their lives feel somewhat empty, especially in terms of their profession because of unmotivated students. One evening while out celebrating one of their birthdays, the friends discuss the work of a psychiatrist who theorized that the human body is naturally 0.05 percent deficient in alcohol. Eventually the group puts the theory into practice while recording their results.
The last time Thomas Vinterberg and Mads Mikkelsen collaborated was the 2012 Danish drama, The Hunt, a brilliant but dark film about mass hysteria and community decay when a kindergarten teacher is wrongly accused of sexual abuse. Another Round has a far lighter touch as a comedy drama that examines friendship, relationships, mental health and self acceptance. Vinterberg suffered an unbelievable tragedy by the untimely death of his daughter, Ida, in a car accident four days into filming. Ida Vinterberg was the catalyst for Another Round ; she convinced her father to adapt it from his initial play to the silver screen and was set to make her debut film appearance. Thomas made the decision to continue the film as his daughter had wished and rewrote the film to contain a more life affirming message.
Centering a film on alcohol consumption is a risky move as presenting it in too positive a light feels irresponsible, and too negative could come across as preachy or inauspicious. Alcohol is an amplifier, it heightens our emotions and lowers our inhibitions. Vinterberg does a pretty thorough examination of the highs and lows of drinking, while carefully never passing judgement or overtly praising it. While the friends experiment appears to show positive results, with each finding more joy and passion in both their personal and professional lives, they decide to increase their consumption and blood alcohol content (BAC) in a moment that feels like the beginning of the end to their experiment. It is this sense of control over the substance that has failed almost anyone who has touched the stuff, but such are the effects of alcohol where ‘one drink more couldn’t hurt’ is where the power balance changes.
With an almost guaranteed sad or destructive third act, Another Round sort of pulls back from being too dire and allows for a more introspective look at the consequences of this social experiment. Predictably, it goes off the rails almost as soon as their study takes shape and it forces each character to look at themselves and ask the deeper questions of why they let it so. Despite some dire and truly emotional moments, the film is wickedly funny throughout and Vinterberg nails that sort of buzzed feeling where you feel looser and more free. The comaraderie between the group is fantastically written; what appears as an inherently silly idea, makes sense by all accounts because they all agree it does, and a few ground rules bring order to it. It’s hilarious to watch these grown men act like they stumbled upon the Fountain of Youth and unlocked the secrets to success and happiness.
Mads Mikkelsen should be a front-runner when award season comes knocking with one of his most triumphant performances to date. It’s amazing how Hollywood keeps shoehorning him into villainous or stoic roles when the man has such range and a beautiful vibrance to him. The rest of the cast are superb with their own revelations and pitfalls on display. Each member of the group reacts to the experiment differently, showcasing the drastic effects of alcohol on an individual basis. The pretense of the experiment is for academic purposes while having some fun, but the reality is each man is each of them feel unfulfilled and stagnant, so the inevitable midlife crisis is not far behind.
Another Round is a brilliant film about embracing life and learning to live and love again. Spearheaded by a terrific cast, a spirited soundtrack, lively cinematography, and a deep sense of losing oneself and choosing the wrong vices to find your way back. The scene where it’s discovered that Martin is drinking on the job to test the theory after admitting his depression should be a tragic revelation or a cry for help, but Vinterberg finds comedy in the tragedy and playfully blurs this line throughout. Another Round captures that sense of adventure when your friends come together on a project and the exhilaration and giddiness that follows in the face of how ridiculous the project may be.
Nagans of vodka in the school toilets