Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, Lars Ranthe
Run Time: 117 mins
Another Round is a high concept tragicomedy from director Thomas Vinterberg who re-teams with the ever-versatile Mads Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen plays Martin, a jaded and uninspired History teacher who is struggling to enthuse his students and has a stale relationship with his wife and kids at home. These qualities are shared by three of his close friends who also teach in the same school – sports teacher Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), music teacher Peter (Lars Ranthe) and psychology teacher Nikolaj (Magnus Millang). When they meet up to celebrate Nikolaj’s 40th birthday in an up-market restaurant, they get very drunk. One of them brings up the subject of a theory by Norwegian psychologist Finn Skårderud who opined that humanity performs best when they have a blood alcohol content of 0.05%. Martin decides to put this theory to the test one day whilst teaching and he finds that he has a much closer relationship with his pupils. The rest of the group decide to join in and they all have similarly positive results. They start to record their results in an academic journal that they curate and as the film progresses, they slowly up the alcohol level to explore the effects. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they discover that the benefits start to stagnate the more they drink and they eventually reach the road of self-destruction, with both comedic and devastating consequences.
Another Round is often infectiously humorous and the relationship between the four teachers is developed very authentically and they have fantastic chemistry. The film is equally depressing at times when we witness the dire consequences alcohol can have on these teachers. The first two thirds of the film is particularly beautifully crafted but it loses its footing in the final third somewhat. The final act negates the message of the first two acts and Vinterberg seems to be unsure in his argument of whether alcohol has a positive or negative influence.
Mikkelsen is typically excellent in the role, who portrays Martin with a potent world-weariness and a tinge of sadness. He is an easy character to care for as he learns to live again many times in the film. Vinterberg has proven he knows how to showcase Mikkelsen away from the typecast of a villainous actor he has gained in his Hollywood efforts, and Mikkelsen gave a career-best performance in an earlier teaming of the duo in The Hunt. The rest of the group of teachers are great, in particular Tommy Bo Larsen deftly balances the humour of his drinking with his affectionate group of young footballers with his depression.
Another Round is another really strong piece of work from Vinterberg, especially in its first two thirds and it’s a shame that the final act can’t quite match them in its grandeur. Vinterberg is a provocative filmmaker, founding the Dogme 95 movement with the more radical Lars Von Trier and Another Round finds the director in quite a restrained manner. The Hunt remains Vinterberg’s best film and packs much more of an emotional wallop than Another Round, but there is lots to admire here and the first two thirds of the film really are very powerful.