Back in 2012, Thomas Vinterberg and Mads Mikkelsen won wide levels of acclaim for The Hunt. Now, the pair have re-teamed for Vinterberg’s latest –Another Round which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in September last year. It is Denmark’s entry for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscars and won the top prize at the 2020 London Film Festival.
Another Round focuses on a group of teachers in Denmark who are all struggling to motivate their students to reach their potential and feel their lives are in a rut. When the group meet to celebrate one of the group’s birthday, they decide to undertake an experiment to see if having a blood alcohol level of 0.05% results in greater levels of relaxation and creativity. Martin (played by Mikkelsen) starts to embrace the experiment, drinking at work and seeing greater connectivity with his students and happiness in his private life.
The way the film drifts between the quartet showing the effects of increased alcohol consumption is one of its strengths. We initially see the group attaining much greater levels of satisfaction, both domestically and privately, however when they decide to up the percentage level and turn to binge drinking, things quickly take a turn for the worse and the group sees far greater strains on their personal lives.
The film deals with some heavy topics, but in a mostly fun manner, tackling the effects alcohol can have on one’s mental and physical health, also dealing with midlife crises and the importance of friendship. Our central quartet’s relationship is the film’s anchor in many ways and the actors bounce off each other brilliantly, led by an ever-sparkling Mads Mikkelsen.
With the film devoting the majority of its runtime to the four leads, it remains constantly watchable. The sequences that bookend the film are; one of youths drinking on a train, enjoying themselves and being somewhat rebellious and the final sequence (which features dancing and celebrating on the harbour-side on graduation day). These are two of the highlights of the film and both are engaging sequences.
The tone of Another Round can perhaps be seen as both a strength and weakness, as it doesn’t fully commit to being a comedy or a heavy drama piece. From my perspective, the shifts in tone work to balance events out, ensuring the film is fun and not too heavy, while certainly not shying away from darker moments that show the effects of alcoholism and grief. The shift in tone really allows the cast to flex multiple acting muscles, exhibiting a real sense of buoyancy in the film’s climax, metred with a real sense of levity in the scenes directly preceding this.
Another Round stands out courtesy of its cast, with a magnetic lead performance from Mads Mikkelsen, which is more restrained than his work in larger blockbusters like Rogue One and Casino Royale. Mikkelsen is ably supported by co-stars Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe and Magnus Millang. The film does a fine job balancing comedy and moments of darkness, it is constantly fun and offers an intriguing glimpse at the toll alcoholism can take while tackling midlife crises. The contrast between this film and the previous collaboration between Vinterberg and Mikkelsen is quite stark, offering a great showcase of the range of talent at both individual’s disposal. As much a showcase for Mikkelsen, as it is for the rest of its core cast, this is a powerful, funny and affecting film worthy of the awards conversations it finds itself in.
Another Round is now available on VOD in the US and is heading to UK cinemas 2 July 2021