Thomas Vinterberg and Mads Mikkelsen team up for Another Round at the London Film Festival.
Four friends, all teachers at various stages of middle age, are stuck in a rut. One evening while celebrating one of the group’s 40th birthday over dinner and drinks, conversation steers towards Norwegian psychologist Finn Skårderud. He claimed that humans are born with a blood alcohol level that is 0.05% too low. He suggested maintaining a low level of alcohol use causes you to become more poised, more relaxed, more courageous.
The four men decide to put the theory to the test in the name of research, with the aim of writing a paper on it at the end. Could their lives and work be improved by baselining alcohol every day? After all, it worked for Churchill and Hemingway right?
One can imagine that some areas of society will chastise the film for glorifying drinking and alcohol. Simply from watching the trailer. Those people were probably the same ones who said Trainspotting glorified taking heroin. A view one can only reach by not actually watching the film.
It is true that their experiment initially has the desired effect. The men begin to embrace life again and become better teachers. Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) goes from listless and disinteresed in his classroom to engaging with and inspiring his students. He is even able to reignite the passion back into his marriage.
However after every great night comes the inevitable hangover. Buoyed by their apparent success, the men decide to increase their daily intake and that is where events take a darker turn.
The role that alcohol plays in society has come under the microscope during COVID-19 and lockdown. Vinterberg and co-writer Tobias Lindholm are unafraid to examine the good, the bad and the ugly sides of alcohol consumption and the effects it has on those drinking and those around them.
As one might expect given his previous collaboration with Vinterberg in The Hunt, Mads Mikkelsen delivers an incredibly nuanced performance. It is his emotional reaction to a drink at the meal that kickstarts the whole project. Mikkelsen is not afraid to run the full gamut of emotions like Nic Cage sampling every bottle in a Vegas hotel mini bar. We witness him tackling the Angel’s share of highs e.g. an incredible and unexpected dance number and the demon drink lows (a heated confronted with his wife and family after a heavy night out).
Mads is ably propped up at the bar by his cohorts. In particular, Thomas Bo Larsen deserves credit for generating a lot of empathy as Tommy, the character with the darkest and most tragic arc of the friends.
Ultimately, at its heart, the film is a celebration. A celebration of life, love and friendship, in all its shades of grey. No matter whether or not you do it with a drink in your hand.
So raise a glass to Another Round which is one of the best films of the year. Skål!
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Stars: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, Magnus Millang
Runtime: 115 minutes