Another Round (dir. Vinterberg)

Image: Mads Mikkelsen as Martin in Another Round [Source: Google Images]

★★★★☆

Four lifelong friends who all work as teachers. Find themselves exhausted with life, little to no joy and passion void in their souls. Depressed with where they have ended up and feeling an envy towards their binge drinking, high on life students. Nikolaj, the groups psychology teacher, shares with them a theory from a Swiss Psychiatrist. That human beings were born with a blood-alcohol deficiency of 0.05% and to gain a new found joy and success in personal and professional life we should try maintain that level throughout the day by drinking. So the group take it as an experiment to see if there is any truth to it.

Director: Thomas Vinterberg. Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larson, Magnus Millang [12A]

What a life. That’s effectively the first and last words in Another Round. It would be easy to pitch this film or write it off as simply being a story of getting absolutely sloshed, general buffoonery and the potential dangers. But Another Round dares to dabble in depth, in the horrors and the joys and everything in-between when it comes to alcoholism. But most prominently the films is a life affirming venture that the main character, played by Mads Mikkelsen. Becomes a vessel for the director himself as well as the audience.

What’s clear in the plot of Another Round is that it could not simply be a glowing review of getting drunk whenever you can, as much as it couldn’t be a foreboding message about how drinking will ruin your life. As with all things and it runs through the core of this film, life is about moderation as is drinking. We see the ying and yang as to where drinking can get you. So let’s start with the not so joyous. The character of Tommy. Like the others he is on-board to try this out and much like our main character Martin. He too pushes the boat out and wants to keep climbing the intoxication ladder as they all start to see tangible positive effects on their life. What the film does through the first and second acts brilliantly as its almost subtle enough to miss and yet its there right in front of you. Is that it captures what anyone drinking can fall easily prey to, you the audience get caught up in it while watching – its the exuberant joy that can come from getting drunk. As the audience we laugh and get swept up along with the characters in enjoying the hilarity and fun of it all, you’d almost start to think the theory of the deficiency was correct.

It’s there, however, when the film does exactly what happens to the actual people who get swept up in this feeling of seemingly constant joy. It’s takes a turn for the worst. Thankfully not in an over dramatic way but in a realistic way. A lot of what happens you could easily see happening to any of the characters involved but this one got unlucky, his addiction too deeply rooted. In learning about this film, this side of the tale was where the plot was going to focus but in a tragic irony, real life events found themselves reflecting on the film and art imitated life, just as the film wants life to imitate art. The director, crew and cast had to deal with tragedy while coming back to a movie they felt was dark enough. In an effort to deal with the tragedy and remind themselves of the wonders of life. The narrative becomes more life affirming after dealing the dangers of alcoholism. But not in an off handed dismissal. In a clinging, releasing demonstration of tragic comedy and all what life is, encapsulated. The film is an exploration of these very moments and how life can deal you constant bad hands, it can beat you to the ground and take away all that you hold dear and in the same sentence can bring you unprecedented joy, laughter and exuberant memories to look back on. The film ultimately is about taking hold of the latter and make the most of life, through the good and the bad.

In many ways it’s a perfect film to watch as the world slowly withdraws from a pandemic. It’s certainly a film I can imagine coming back to time and time again for some much needed joy and some positive affirmation. It’s a film about drinking, yes. It’s a film to laugh at, yes. It’s a film dealing with the depths of addiction, yes. It’s a film remarking on just how much life throws the worst at you, yes. It’s a film that delights in the buffoonery of being drunk, yes. It’s a film that wonderfully shares in the bonds of friendship, yes. It’s a film that most of all wants you to say yes, to life. To enjoying yourself, to taking the bad with the good, to make the most of it, to not let yourself lose passion for it. The ending is a moment it builds up to for the entire film as huge demonstration of letting go and not weighing yourself down, not to forgot or dismiss those around you and who you care for but to live for yourself and them. It wants to remind you what a life this is.

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