Movie Review: ‘Another Round’
Recently, Robert Muller, the president and founder of the Film Noir Foundation posted on social media about this Danish film which hit him emotionally in a way no other movie has in years. Luckily last week a copy of this film appeared in the New Release section of Black Lodge Video so I was more than curious to see this movie that elicited such a strong response from one of my cinema heroes. What I saw was an honest and unflinching look at alcoholism on the level of masterpieces like The Lost Weekend or Days of Wine and Roses.
Four school teachers, Martin, Tommy, Nikolaj, and Peter are hitting their midlives and wondering where the time went. At the birthday part for one member of their group the foursome discuss the idea that increasing one’s level of drinking unlocks a certain full potential. This spurs a pact between them to indulge in their alcoholic desires and for a while it works. The formerly stuffy history teacher Martin makes his class fun and engaging while the soccer coach Tommy coaches his team to success. Throughout this we see title cards indicating how high charting their blood alcohol level which is spiking and while the binge drinking may have taken them to the highest of highs they inevitably spiral out of control. Martin hits rock bottom when his son finds him passed out on the street and carries him home where his wife announces her intention to leave him. While the group tries to end the experiment it is too late for Tommy who is deep into alcoholism territory and after his career is ruined because of it, he loses his life in a drunken boating accident.
By the end of this film I was emotionally drained and I mean that in the best way possible. As director Thomas Vinterberg puts us in the thick of their alcohol soaked experiment by displaying the daily BAC numbers we ride along with these characters throughout the film’s duration. We see how each character is effected differently by getting soaked on a regular basis. From Nikolaj alienating his wife and children before quickly sorting things out to Tommy falling into full blown drunkard eventually losing his life in the process. It was Tommy’s tragic death which proves to be the turning point of Another Round, the fun and drama of the movie comes to an abrupt halt in a funeral scene which is nothing short of a punch to the emotions.
As the passionless history teacher who finds comfort in the bottle, Martin, Mads Mikkelsen gives one of the best performances of his career. The actor of Casino Royale and Hannibal fame delivers a performance that is rooted in honesty. We see his evolution as a character from a man disliked by his class (and their parents) and disrespected by his family into a popular and entertaining educator who finds success on a professional level. Yet it is a double-edged sword that fuels one success costs him his family. His energetic champagne soaked dance at the end of the film is the perfect ending to the journey he took us one.
The lockdowns and quarantines brought on by the Global Bastard means that Another Round was deprived of the rich festival circuit success it truly deserved. Luckily the festivals it did screen in showed audiences just how good this film is. Hopefully with the increased award notoriety and restrictions easing more people can see this wonderful film.