LFF 2020: Another Round – Review

Release Date – 2nd July 2021, Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 57 minutes, Director – Thomas Vinterberg

Four teachers decide to conduct an experiment to see whether a theory about keeping a blood-alcohol level of 0.05% will improve their everyday and working lives, however overtime they decide to increase this mark.

Binge drinking. It’s tradition held exclusively by the youths! Funnelling – sometimes literally – down excess alcoholic content in ritual competitions and booze-fuelled races students at Mads Mikkelson’s Martin’s school take part in this event on their graduation day each year. As for the middle-aged teachers, they’re left inside; their worries and life stresses continuing to weight them down, no buzz left in their lives. Martin himself is feeling distance in his homelife, especially when it comes to his relationships with his wife, Anika (Maria Bonnevie), and his two sons. However, when he and three other teachers – Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe) and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) – begin to discuss Finn Skårderud’s blood-alcohol theory they embark on an experiment that begins to make their lives seem that little bit better.

According to the film, Skårderud’s theory states that the average human’s blood-alcohol level is 0.05% too low. It should be this slight percentage shift higher to allow for better concentration and relaxation in both social and work scenarios. The four agree to keep their own levels at this mark and write an essay together on their personal experiences conducting this experiment. Initially things go well. Martin finds himself able to better connect with his students, to start with rowdy and unengaged with the lack of enthusiasm from their teacher. However, as a buzz kicks on from the alcohol in his system – consumed during work hours, the rules are that alcohol can’t be drunk after 8pm – things pick up both in class and at home. Mikkelsen especially shows this in his performance as he engages more with his class and engages in back and forth conversation with them in banter-like classes and lectures. The group seem more alert, and yet more at ease with their students and surroundings, the most tension coming from being found drinking, or stashing bottles of Smirnoff, on school property.

As the ‘research’ goes on the level of alcohol goes up. The central four begin to drink more heavily, and into the night. While to start with this produces some relatively light and comedic moments, the staggering and joyous nature of the group is certainly something with much care-free joy, things soon begin to get serious. Addictions begin to approach and this causes further rifts in family lives. What once seemed like happy-go-lucky tipsiness almost instantly snaps into dangerous drunkenness. It’s a well-handled shift from comedy into drama, and the performances don’t seem to change, it’s the tone of the film that gradually does. Forming a fine sense of drama with no dramatic change in tone. Helped by the performances, and the details of the screenplay, the film carries along its tracks with some heart, humour, drama and in hand emotion.

The film seemingly sets its tone from the start, with a montage of various political figures drinking, potentially even getting drunk. However, much more is covered than just this, more than just the experiment. It shows the complications of it, the harsh impacts that it may have, even if there are some laughs to be had at first. And even during the drama the occasional humour isn’t dropped, it’s still present, but in slightly more darker tones, bordering on slight black comedy. There’s a fair deal to witness and enjoy within the film and overall it’s encapsulated in the run-time rather well.

Things might seem to slow down and feel a bit lengthy in the final 20 minutes but there’s still some entertainment to be found, particularly in a finely sculpted ending that truly sums up the themes of abandon that the film sets out, while also well-tuned to the rest of the themes and ideas that are created in the mix. Never a swirling cocktail, or a chaotic boozy tumble – although some scenes may be better described by the film’s original Danish name, Druk. Another Round is a coherently told story of addiction, worry, drunkenness and hints of middle-age crisis, led by a top form Mads Mikkelsen.

Mads Mikkelsen leads a great cast in this booze-infused story of drunkenness, where the true themes are of worry and a want for greater connections in relationships, rejuvenation and more. It might get tough along the way, but there’s still plenty of humour and heart mixed in for good measure.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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