A mid-life crisis of drink and jazz ballet (London Film Festival)
Another Round is a Danish drama about a group of four middle-aged men, Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe), and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang). All four men work in the same high school, and decide to investigate a socio-psychological experiment- does being drunk on a daily basis benefit their lives?
Of course, there are ground rules for this experiment, as Nikolaj brings up during dinner for his 40th birthday a well-known philosopher had the theory that each person is born with 0.05% of alcohol in their body, and believed that if that percentage was stable through the entirety of each person's life, they would be happier.
Martin, the one infamously known to be the most energetic and enthusiastic member of the group, is now going through a mid-life crisis with both his marriage to his wife Anika (Maria Bonnevie) and his job as a history teacher in peril.
After Martin's first, seemingly, successful day at school, the rest of the group agrees to join in the experiment for so-called academic purposes, cataloguing everything they do or feel, to find proof that the theory is correct.
The main inspiration to what kind of program they will follow is from the legendary writer, and renowned functional alcoholic, Ernest Hemmingway. The group decide to only drink between the morning and 8 pm at night (excluding weekends) ensuring they only drink to keep the 0.05% level stable in their bodies.
The film is directed by Danish filmmaker, Thomas Vinterberg, mostly known for the 2012 drama, The Hunt, also starring Mad Mikkelsen. Similar to The Hunt, Another Round (or Druk, its original Danish title) also deals with the issues of toxic masculinity, specifically for those in a small community. But the difference lies in the fact that Another Round is far more about empathy and continuing to try to be the best we can be. Vinterberg stated that the film is not trying to celebrate the act of drinking, but celebrating life itself.
The film does not try to give a moral critique or validation that getting drunk is the solution to all issues. Even with these four characters, we are early on, and especially as the story progresses, presented with issues that were not manifested on their own, especially for Martin. A family man who loses hopes of sustaining a stale marriage, and does not even try to inspire his students, believes that alcohol is the solution when all along he was dealing with internal issues that either he could not understand or want to admit.
Even Hemmingway, someone who is an icon to the field of journalism, literature, theatre, and cinema, dealt with a lot of trauma and pain, that unfortunately led him to suicide. Despite that, he still managed to be the best in all his professions.
The film tries to have as a philosophical conversation on the questions of what is needed to be noteworthy or even just getting through a rough day.
Though that may sound quite heavy, thanks to a very strong screenplay, and a very talented group of actors, there is levity in the mood, making the film both funny enough to be entertaining, and emotionally dramatic enough to care for the characters.
Mads Mikkelsen is the biggest standout, as this is one of his finest and most complex performances. He plays with both the emotion and physicality of the character especially during a phenomenal dance sequence which sees Mikkelsen acting out a fully choreographed jazz ballet.
Probably Vinterberg's best film to date, Another Round is an interesting look at a mid-life crisis of those who are working-class in Denmark, and how the instability of life can affect someone and their actions.
It's also pretty fun to see what is essentially a group of drunk middle-aged white guys trying to catch fish on the docks.
Another Round won the London Film Festival Virtual Award for Best Film of 2020, competing with all films that were available on the virtual channel, and voted by the public. I was one of them, and it truly is a worthy winner, and for now, I would put it as the front runner for the Oscar for Best International Feature (pending Denmark submits it as its representative).
The film will hit UK cinemas on the 27th of November.
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