December 4, 2020
Thomas Vinterberg's tragicomedy "Another Round" follows Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), a history teacher whose life has seemingly plateaued. He no longer connects with his students and his marriage is silently falling apart. He's bored with life. He ignores the troubles at home.
Martin hangs out with his pals and colleagues Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe), and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) to celebrate Nikolaj's 40th birthday.
As the night draws on, the group realizes that they've all hit a crossroads. This leads Nikolaj to bring up psychiatrist Finn Skårderud, who once claimed that you are at your most creative and relaxed state with a blood alcohol level of 0.05. That's two glasses of wine or a shot of whisky. With nothing to lose, and perhaps inspired by a few historical figures that have been known to down a few bottles of booze, Martin gets the team on board to test the theory.
"Another Round" has been a part of the awards conversation since its premiere last year at the Toronto International Film Festival. Just recently, it picked up a few more accolades and prizes having just won the BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language. "Another Round" has also been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, and is now up for two Oscars: Best International Feature and Best Director (Vinterberg).
All this begs a question. Is this movie really worth all its praise? Let's dive in.
Reasons to Sink
- There's an artistic reason the film starts slow and spiritless. The pace can make some restless wanting the story to just begin.
- Between shaky camerawork (which is for effect), and the presentation of text messages as title cards, there are a few instances where you can be taken out of the movie.
- The film touches on the effects that alcoholism can have on oneself and a family unit. However, for many of the characters, the real lessons are learned offscreen and are only implied.
Reasons to Stream
- Even though the film is about four friends, the real story is with Mikkelsen's Martin, and Mikkelsen delivers a powerful and compelling performance. Plus, who knew the man could dance?!
- Each character – and each actor who portrays them – has their own moments that shine. No one character is left underdeveloped or pushed to the wayside.
- Everyone is talking about Mikkelsen, but can we talk also about Maria Bonnevie as Martin's long-suffering wife Anika? Wow!
- There's a certain scientific approach the men take to testing the theory, and the movie smartly sticks with this approach through to the end.
- A movie about four men approaching a midlife crisis and turning to booze can go many ways. Thankfully, Vinterberg doesn't dumb it down into a romp like "Old School." If this movie gets a U.S. remake though, expect it.
"Another Round" - Sink or Stream?
Our verdict? Stream it! This tale of four men approaching a midlife crisis is something everyone can relate to. We know these guys. They're our fathers, or our co-workers, or our lifelong pals, who all choose to ignore reality until it comes crashing down in front of them.
The four men start their journey denying they're alcoholics. The difference lies in their belief that they are completely in control. Maybe the drink helps them lead, captivate, and inspire, but they ignore the sad truths. They cannot do simple things like drive to and from work. They must hide their true selves, whether it's lame excuses for having to drive a more tipsy friend home, or just having to hide all those bottles around the school. The truth is that they're not hiding anything. In the end, they realize just how out of control they are and must face the facts. They are indeed alcoholics.
"Another Round" could have easily drifted into a mindless comedy, but Vinterberg and co-screenwriter Tobias Lindholm deserve credit for finding the true pathos and keeping the film on track. Where other movies might gloss over this, Vinterberg, and actors Mikkelsen and Larsen in particular, face this head-on.
Vinterberg may be a dark horse candidate for the Best Director Oscar, but he truly puts forward a captivating tale of crisis and redemption that's worth a watch.
Matt Lissauer is a writer & data manager for Noovie. When he is not busy writing listicles, Matt is enjoying life in New Jersey with his lovely wife and three kids.