Film review: Another Round
Written by Arthur
Rating Mads Mikkelsen shines in this darkly funny exploration of drinking culture and the forces that drive it.
Director: Thomas Vinterberg Cast: Mads Mikkelsen Certificate: 12 Watch Another Round online in the UK: BFI Player / Curzon Home Cinema / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Virgin Movies / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Thomas Vinterberg’s most memorable films are sociological in nature. Taking a cast of characters and putting them into unusual situations, films such as The Hunt and The Commune interrogate social structures and their effect on the people who inhabit them. These last two films use a false accusation of pedophilia and communal living respectively, while Vinterberg’s latest film Another Round uses drinking on the job as the catalyst for its investigation into the cultural role alcohol plays in society.
Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) is a high school history teacher who is essentially sleep-walking through middle-age. His interactions with his family are minimal and his class of hard-partying students are thoroughly disengaged. After a birthday meal discussion with three of his male colleagues, the small group of teachers decide to test a theory that humans perform better socially and professionally if their blood alcohol level is raised by 0.05 per cent.
What follows are increasingly drunken hijinks in which four men attempt to escape their mid-life doldrums with secret low-level drinking throughout their days of work at school. It is here that Another Round begins to bare its funny fangs, as drunken pratfalls are mixed with a palpable social tension to hilarious effect.
This is a role that allows Mikkelsen’s range to shine. More than his performances of inebriation, it is the birthday meal scene that highlights his talent as a performer. With quiet tragedy Mikkelsen morphs from a quiet, awkward man to a sorrowful human being, overwhelmed by grief at the husk of a man he feels he has become.
One may be forgiven for thinking that the entire film is a psy-op by the alcohol industry with Carlsberg man Mikkelsen as the mascot. At first, the teachers’ drinking appears to yield results as they are more engaged with their work educating young people and Martin’s relationship with his wife seems to be rekindled. The third act, however, puts paid to such a notion with a darker, dramatic tone.
As with The Hunt and The Commune, Another Round closes with the return to a seemingly more optimistic normality with an undeniable note of trepidation. Yes, Vinterberg is retreading a familiar narrative structure, but through that Another Round becomes more than a comedy about middle-aged men attempting to regain lost vigour, or a sombre message piece about the perils of alcohol dependency. Instead, it leaves the audience questioning drinking culture and the forces that drive it.