Review: 'Another Round' (2020) Dir. Thomas Vinterberg
The multi-award winning film by Thomas Vinterberg, adapted from a play he wrote, explores alcohol and the effect it has on us and society via a cocktail of comedy and drama...
Four school lecturers are leading four very uneventful lives. They are plagued by social anxiety, lack of confidence and non-fulfilment with their marriages and work. They decide a psychological experiment is in order; one with alcohol.
Martin (Mikkelsen), Tommy (Larsen), Peter (Ranthe) and Nikolaj (Millang) study gradual increases of alcohol in their bloodstream to see how it affects their social and psychological attitudes. Safe to say, they become new men.
The experiment moves from one level to the next, increasing the ratio of drinking and volumes acceptable each day, but as the alcohol begins to take over, some of the group can't see their lives and careers are hanging by a thread...
Following the strong critical acclaim, cemented by BAFTA and Academy Award wins, Thomas Vinterberg's exploration of alcohol and it's power in society and the mind finally arrives in the UK. Another Round works best, as all foreign films do, in the domestic tongue. Embrace subtitles as an expansion of the story and allow these Danes to immerse you in their culture with no dubbing. And no remake.
The story follows four Copenhagen school lecturers - Mikkelsen, Larsen, Ranthe and Millang - going through very similar, yet different, walks of life. Be it struggling with the day to day pressure of balancing family and work, or something as covert as general anxiety in a classroom. So, what could be the answer to their problems? After an emotional yet amusing birthday dinner, our four friends see that alcohol can bring out something from within that helps counter the troubles and glosses them with a confidence and an assertiveness they greatly need. Agreeing to drink certain amounts at certain times in the day, so begins an experiment to see what volumes of alcohol can do to a person. Hopefully for the better.
But when has alcohol ever been the solution to any problem, no matter how much the good intent.
Most people enjoy a drink now and then. It steadies nerves, breaks down walls and instils confidence. Yet alcohol is a slippery slope and a dangerous addiction if misunderstood and not respected. The topic around experimenting with alcohol is the crux of this story, but for the good of understanding the power of drink and the psychology underneath it. However it becomes an easy way out of reality for those wanting to escape, and excuse after excuse is presented to mask what goes on underneath.
Vinterberg gives us four men looking to be better people in professional and social circumstances using drink as the fuel. It's wonderfully shot and edited; very homely in places, very immersive with long shots and no rushed pacing. We are allowed to see the environments of each of the men, and their social and physical developments which are nothing but heart-warming, and you just want to cheer them on.
Each time we see one of our good-hearted friends have a longer swig and use the breathalyser to "measure" their levels, we know they are doomed because the drink has already taken over.
Mikkelsen is the main man of our four who struggles most, and the one you want succeed most, but can see him slowly fraying under the effect of drink. You can see most of the fraying; drink hidden around school and home, innocents caught in the crossfire, faux emotion getting wilder and out of hand. On one hand we are treated to warm shots of social drinking, confidence off the scale and accompanied by a cool score - we celebrate drink! On the other hand, we then see the fallout with incoherent emotion, illness and responsibility out the window - we loathe drink!
The direction by Vinterberg lulls us in with the teachers as they become more relaxed, more approachable and more fun maintaining alcohol levels in their bloodstream daily. But then he takes us on a darker path once we peak, and we see the expected downfalls of alcohol abuse in situations such as home-life and schools. You can see the controversy coming, but Vinterburg deals with it in a very non-melodramatic way, and he hits hard thanks to the perfect cast portraying our leads.
It's a very humane look at what drink offers to those in need of escape, and in some parts its sweet to see when the levels are low, but nobody can say no to just one more if the promise of greater glory is teased. A very strong focus on our four friends holds the story together, and you'll just be watching and hoping things don't turn out for the worst, despite trailers and posters of Mikkelsen dancing around in glee chugging from a champagne bottle to an adorning crowd
'Another Round' is a humane and honest exploration of alcohol abuse, scarily real in places under respectful direction, a solid cast and Mikkelsen giving us his best work in years.
'Another Round' is a co-production between Zentropa, Film i Väst, Topkapi Films, Danish Film Institute, TV2 Danmark, Eurimages, Netherlands Film Fund and Swedish Film Institute