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Another Round

"packs a punch and has plenty to say"

★★★★½ - STUFF 

- Mads Mikkelsen's intoxicating new drama a memorable watch - 

“Have I become boring?”

Reaching his 40s has hit history teacher Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) hard. A decade ago, he had a grant, a PhD and a bright research career seemed assured. Instead, he’s still teaching the past to Danish youths more interested in their phones.

The question, posed to his wife Anika (Maria Bonnevie), doesn’t elicit the response he hoped for either. “You’re not the same Martin I met."

After a particularly harrowing day involving a meeting with parents concerned that he’s “indifferent” to their children’s performance in upcoming exams, Martin is looking forward to a birthday party with his fellow teaching mates. But while everyone else celebrates with champagne, he’s just having soda. It is a school night after all.

“Too bad you’re so sensible,” birthday boy Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) opines. As the evening wears on, discussion turns to the theories of Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skarderud, who believed that human beings were born with a blood alcohol 0.05 per cent too low. Drinking just enough to compensate could help you be more relaxed, poised and self-confident.

While the others initially just laugh it off, Martin is inspired and, after his own initial experimentation achieves the desired result, all of the quartet decide the theory needs rigorous testing. There’s just one rule – only drink during work hours.

However, hiding the evidence and their constant slight inebriation could be difficult, especially as success leaves them convinced they can push the envelope (and their blood alcohol levels) just that little bit further.

Thomas Vinterberg’s last collaboration with Mikkelsen was 2012’s harrowing and haunting The Hunt, which focused a kindergarten teacher accused of abusing one of the children. While Another Round’s story is a little more light-hearted, it still packs a punch and has plenty to say.

Vinterberg and co-writer Tobias Lindholm’s (TV’s Borgen) script muses not only on what it means to be a youth today, but also those clinging to their own youthfulness. Inspired by a play Vinterberg wrote for the stage in Vienna, the script also apparently had input (especially around Denmark’s modern day drinking culture) from his daughter Ida (who was originally set to play one of Martin’s children until she was killed in a car accident four days into filming).

While it is a celebration of life and finding happiness within it (something that gives former dancer Mikkelsen the chance to showcase his impressive moves), this is not a movie that glorifies alcohol. Sure it highlights some hijinks and fun, but it also doesn’t shy away from the evils and embarrassing effects. There are horrific injuries, awful self-indignities and long-term effects on relationships with partners and children.

Mikkelsen is magnificent in the nominal lead, a depressed man hoping to get his joie de vivre back from the bottom of a bottle and learning more about himself in the process, but all of the central quartet deliver terrific performances.

With some slick editing (a montage of tipsy world leaders is a standout, although sadly it’s missing our own infamous 1984 schnapps-election announcement), the memorable use of Scarlet Pleasure’s What A Life and images that will stay with you for days, Another Round is an intoxicating drama that will make you re-examine your own relationship with “the demon drink”.

- James Croot, STUFF

Another Round is now playing at Light House Cinema!

(In Danish with English subtitles.)


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