Another Round, 2020.
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg.
Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, Magnus Millang, Maria Bonnevie, Helene Reingaard Neumann, Magnus Sjørup, Silas Cornelius Van and Albert Rudbeck Lindhart.
Four friends, all high school teachers, test a theory that they will improve their lives by maintaining a constant level of alcohol in their blood.
Another Round represents another triumph for director Thomas Vinterberg (Far from the Madding Crowd) and lead actor Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Hannibal), following 2012’s The Hunt. Although Mikkelsen is cast once again as a teacher, Another Round is an entirely different concept: A group of four middle-aged teachers who’ve lost their mojo experiment with keeping the alcohol level in their blood consistently raised, in order to enhance their performance.
The premise could sound like that of an obnoxious, crude, frat boy-esque comedy – but it’s so much more than that. With Vinterberg at the helm as both co-writer (with Tobias Lindholm) and director, it’s much more refined. It’s an adroit exploration of alcohol’s psychological impact that Vinterberg handles deftly, allowing for great moments of humour and levity alongside touching and more sombre scenes.
Mikkelsen yet again proves himself to be an exceptional actor, managing to convince – quite against his usual casting – as unmotivated, lacking in confidence and a bit of a loser. His relationships at home with this wife and sons have slipped away, and his students have little faith in his ability as a teacher. It’s these problems, unloaded in a poignant scene of male friendship at a birthday dinner, that spark the idea for the group’s social experiment, with each looking for positive change in their lives. Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen, The Hunt) wants to rediscover his passion for coaching football, Nikolaj (Magnus Millang, Heavy Load) wants respite from an exhausting, baby-filled house and Peter (Lars Ranthe, The Hunt) is also seeking better connections in both his music teaching and love life. The way these characters interact with one another and commit to the challenge is one of Another Round’s greatest joys, revealing solid, supportive friendships. The insight Vinterberg’s screenplay is able to demonstrate with these teachers and their bond, which radiates genuine warmth, is wonderful.
It’s unusual to see frumpy, unglamorous middle-aged male crises on the big screen – unless it’s part of the elaborate set-up to a punchline in a Jason Bateman bro-type comedy – but Another Round ensures it is truly compelling. Vinterberg is also unafraid to pack a punch, with the film being at times both joyful and devastating. This leaves it up to the viewer to ponder how to interpret the bittersweet film’s message about alcohol, and whether this is, essentially, a funny or sad story. And in a bid for 2020’s most exuberant cinematic moment, the viewer is also treated to some wonderful moves, thrown with wild abandon, by former dancer Mikkelsen.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★