REEL Review – Another Round (2020)

Director: Thomas Vinterberg | 1h 55mins | Drama | Language: Danish

Martin (Mads Mikkelson), along with three of his High School teacher friends, test a theory that keeps a constant level of alcohol in their blood in order to improve productivity.

Thomas Vinterberg hasn’t collaborated with Mads Mikkelsen since The Hunt (2012), a film that is easily one of the best films of the last decade. The two definitely compliment each other’s styles, both opting for a subtle approach respectively, while having so much more to offer than what first appears. This is just as true in their newest film, Another Round, in which four High School teachers test the hypothesis of being somewhat intoxicated during their day in order to increase productivity.

Druk, en film af Thomas Vinterberg

The theory is that humans are born with a 0.05% deficit in their blood-alcohol levels, and to open themselves up to the world more they must make up the deficit by drinking the odd drink throughout the day. It’s a theory that’s almost comical in it’s legitimacy, but it makes for a very entertaining watch for the first hour or so. Vinterberg does convince us however, through the guidance of the film’s four intellectual characters (well 3, if you minus Tommy who is a gym teacher), that this is a genuine test that allows them to improve their classes – and in Martin’s case, his life.

Martin seems to thrive more than his friends at first, his disengaging and tiresome History lessons become exhilarating and enjoyable in the eyes of his students, giving them questions about life as well as linking it to great drinkers like Churchill and Hemingway. But it’s in his family life we see more of a change, finally reigniting a marriage that had become a routine exchange of menial plans and autopilot existence. But of course, like all films about drug-use and alcohol abuse, the fun does have to end (you’d hope), and it’s the fours reliance on the substance that takes a hold of them.

But Vinterberg has always been a Director that thrives on bordering controversy, showing us the gleeful side of alcohol all the way to the quite joyous end.

This is where Mads excels, he’s so good at capturing inner anguish (and in my opinion one of the best criers in the business), showing us a slow release of demons that he’s been suffering with for so long. This is why he and Vinterberg gel, when they are both on top form they create complexity in subjects that could be treated poorly. But Vinterberg has always been a Director that thrives on bordering controversy, showing us the gleeful side of alcohol all the way to the joyous end.

Of course Vinterberg interjects some tragedy, But as a whole the film is creating thoughts about the bitter side, and the positive side, of a substance that’s so widely taken. That’s why the dance-heavy ending is weirdly feel-good in the face a tragedy and loss of dignity. It’s not blandly forcing the message ‘alcohol is bad’, which is far too elementary for a filmmaker of Vinterberg’s talent, its much more about the characters. People who are missing something in their life, and will do anything to feel fulfilled or happy – the reason the ending works so well in the face of everything we’ve seen.

Another Round may not excel in thought-provoking subjects as well as The Hunt does, but in it’s own right it’s full of personality despite using such muted camerawork, allowing it’s story to speak for itself. Spearheaded by yet another fantastic Mads performance, Another Round is a wonderful addition to a director-actor collaboration that we can’t wait to see more of.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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