Danish drinking culture is put under the microscope in Another Round, the new feature from director Thomas Vinterberg, an adherent of Lars Von Trier’s Dogme school of filmmaking.
Mads Mikkelsen reunites with Vinterberg, who directed him in The Hunt. That was a tense drama about a teacher falsely accused of molesting a student. Here plays another teacher. Martin is a jaded and weary history teacher undergoing something of a midlife crisis. He is drowning in self-pity and his relationship with his wife Amale (Helene Reingaard Neumann) has grown distant. He is merely going through the motions, reading from a history text-book but failing to make it seem interesting or relevant to his students.
But then he attends a party with three of his colleagues who are similarly jaded and disconcerted with their lot in life – soccer coach Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen, another of Vinterberg’s regular collaborators), philosophy teacher Nikolaj (Magnus Millang), and music teacher Peter (Lars Ranthe). They decide to test a pseudo-scientific theory that maintaining a constant level of alcohol in their blood will make them better teachers. They set in place some rules to follow, and also set out to document their experiment. At first the experiment seems to be successful, as Martin rediscovers his energy and enthusiasm and begins to deliver more engaging lessons that resonate with his students, and Tommy’s soccer team becomes a winning combination. But then the four decide to push the limits even further, which has unexpected and even tragic consequences.
There have been other films that have dealt with the issue of alcoholism, notably Billy Wilder’s 1946 Oscar-winning drama The Lost Weekend, but Another Round tackles it from a different perspective.
Vinterberg originally wrote Another Round as a play while he was working in the theatre. His daughter Ida had some input into this a tragic-comedy, but she tragically died in a car crash just four days into filming. After her death, Vinterberg reworked the script to make it more optimistic and life affirming. While this tragi-comedy explores some universal themes, it’s laced with humour which leavens the darker moments.
Mikkelsen has a strong and commanding screen presence and delivers a solid, visceral and physical performance as Martin, especially in the final scene when he dances on a pier in a liberating moment.
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Greg King has had a life long love of films. He has been reviewing popular films for over 15 years. Since 1994, he has been the film reviewer for BEAT magazine. His reviews have also appeared in the Herald Sun newspaper, S-Press, Stage Whispers, and a number of other magazines, newspapers and web sites. Greg contributes to The Blurb on film