Another round marks another successful collaboration for director Thomas Vinterberg and actor Mads Mikkelsen.
Another round is an exploration of alcoholism, filtered through the lens of the midlife crisis. After a conversation over dinner, four teachers decide to conduct a pseudoscientific study to test the hypothesis that the human body and mind function optimally at 0.5% blood alcohol levels. This experiment, of course, has a number of unintended consequences for middle-aged men trying to navigate the world of the new opportunities they are creating for themselves.
Another round works in large part due to the chemistry of its four main lines: Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, and Magnus Millang. It helps that Vinterberg is also careful to avoid tipping over Another round in strict moralization about the dangers of alcohol. Although the course of the film is fairly obvious from the moment the four men pick up on their plans, Another round is refreshingly honest about the nature of the four men’s relationship with alcohol. The film understands the attraction of alcohol to men in this situation.
Still, Another round easily suffers from feeling overly familiar. The plot and character arcs are straightforward, and the film occasionally transitions into downright melodrama in the final act. Still, there is a lot to recommend Another round, even if the taste is not quite as exotic as it suggests.
It is interesting to consider how far Another round is a story about a midlife crisis leading to addiction or a story about addiction caused by a midlife crisis, insofar as such distinctions are meaningful. The characters who populate the film are all men approaching middle age, teachers who may have already had the best years of their lives. “Am I boring?” The history teacher Martin asks his wife as they are getting ready for bed one evening, and there is an uncertainty about driving Martin into the inevitable downward spiral.
On the occasion of Nikkolaj’s 40th birthday over dinner, the group inevitably delves into the theories of Norwegian author Finn Skårderud. Skårderud suggested that keeping blood alcohol levels constant at 0.5% allows a person to be more relaxed and creative. The four friends decide to test this hypothesis and use themselves as guinea pigs in an absurd (and secret) experiment to prove that they can be their best selves while constantly staying tipsy.
Of course, it is immediately apparent that the four men are just rationalizing any excuse to add a little excitement to their lives that trying to prove alcohol could lead to “Increased social and professional performance” is just a justification for the benefit that alcohol takes away from their worldly existence and the enthusiasm it adds to their daily life. It is also very clear from the start that this experiment is unlikely to produce a pleasant result, even before the group shows difficulty in maintaining their level at the desired percentage.
Another round is pretty sharp. After all, Mikkelsen has attracted a lot of international attention as the spokesman for Carlsberg, which makes his casting very conscious. There are moments in the film including a late night party that the four men attend Cissy Strutthat Vinterberg frames as something near a beer commercial. Another round makes it clear from the start that these adventures will not have a happy end. ((“Russia was built by people who drink and drive vodka” The group assures Martin at one point and makes a later cut to Boris Yeltsin particularly sharp.)
Another round avoids being too persistent or moralizing in the treatment of alcoholism by allowing him to capture the stimulus of drinking. The film understands the appeal of alcohol, why so many people are attracted to the substance even before addiction and dependence occur. Under the influence of alcohol, Martin, Nikkolaj, Tommy and Peter are less inhibited and more liberated. They are spontaneous, impulsive, energetic and dynamic. You seem to be passionate about everything. Even the people around her seem to be drawn to this energy.
Vinterberg ties in with the fear of the Middle Ages and repeatedly formulates this as a kind of regression – a possibility to win back lost young people. Martin, Nikkolaj, Tommy, and Peter act like children; They are more playful, they are more concerned with the children in their care, they are inconsiderate and irresponsible. Indeed, Vinterberg underscores this point by contrasting an early sequence in which Nikkolaj’s son wets the bed with a later sequence in which Nikkolaj does the same.
That said Another round suffers from being overly predictable. It’s possible to record most of the movie’s progress from the first few minutes, from the highs of the early experiment to the lows of the inevitable slump into addiction and breakdown. There are few surprises Another roundincluding the movie’s somewhat ambiguous ending, which seems almost inevitable, given both the subject matter and the movie’s efforts to draw the fine line between glamorizing alcohol consumption and being overly moral about the subject.
Even certain scenes feel neatly packed for a movie like this. Another round inevitably shows one of those elaborate and improbable dance sequences in an otherwise well-founded independent film, the visual abbreviation for “Bizarre” that has probably become standard since the publication of standard Little Miss Sunshine. To be fair, the dance sequence inside Another round is a particularly striking example of the trope, and the closing shot is practically perfect, but it still feels like something that’s come standard in this type of movie.
Another round is not such an impressive collaboration as The hunt, but it’s still a well-done (if overly conventional) social drama with a stable script, good direction, and a number of strong performances.