Another Round Review

When this film won pretty much every award for Best Foreign Language Film earlier in the year, this jumped up my radar on films to watch. I was already interested to see it based on how much I appreciated the previous collaboration between Thomas Vinterberg and Mads Mikkelsen, The Hunt, and I was lucky enough to be able to see this in the cinema. Watching the film, I can easily see why it ended up winning the Oscar.

The film follows a group of teachers who have all fallen into a boring rut in their lives, feeling uninsipired and in turn leading their students to be uninspired. After talking about the theories of Finn Skårderud regarding blood alcohol content, the men decide to conduct an experiment where they stay drunk during work hours. They soon find that being drunk does help them with their inhibitions and gives them some more motivation, but it ends up causing harm to their personal lives. This very easily could have been either a preachy film about the dangers of drinking or a glorification of drinking but this is a much more intelligent film than that. It does show the positives that come from drinking in terms of loosening inhibitions, but at the same time it doesn’t shy away from the negative consequences. Now I’m not the best person to talk about drinking being that I’m tee-total and have never been drunk in my life, and there’s a different culture of drinking in Denmark compared to the UK, but the film does a good job at showing how being constantly drunk can affect your life, in ways that you may not necessarily know. Everything in the film is about finding the right balance in life and the need to regain motivation and that this is not necessarily tied to drinking. It is notable that pretty much the only time the main character, Martin, has a true connection with his wife it’s when he’s not been drinking, but does have his passion and drive back. We see how the men have fallen into a rut and how drinking has helped them to get out of it, but also the danger of falling into greater issues.

There are also interesting ideas at play into the nature of drinking throughout history. Over the course of the film comparisons are made to people like Ernest Hemingway and Winston Churchill who are partially known for their drinking habits, with a correlation being drawn between their drinking habits and the skills they possess. It shows how there is a history of promoting drinking and it being seen as synonymous with intelligence in some quarters and helps to show why the idea of being drunk all the time was popularised.

The performances as well add to the power of the film. Mads Mikkelsen gives one of the best performances in his career as Martin, showing how uninspired and lethargic he is in life and how he’s felt pretty much empty for several years, indicating why he was so willing to do the experiment in drinking, and we see how he has a renewed sense of life over the course of the film, but also that he is visibly drunk and clearly worrying people with his actions. The ending though is where Mikkelsen’s performance excels himself. In the ending Mikkelsen puts his dancing skills to great use creating a scene filled with catharsis, acting as a rebirth for his character and showing him fully coming out of his shell and embracing the life that he abandoned years before. The other performances from Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe and Magnus Millang are also excellent, each of them showing their own passions reignited by the experiment but also the dangers it has caused. Larsen shows how easily the experiment could lead to someone devolving into full blown alcoholism and how that can destroy your life, Ranthe shows the corrupting influence that alcohol can have, along with the creative element and Millang showing the physical issues and how he loses control of his bodily functions, to the point where he acts pretty much like a toddler.

Overall, it is easy to see why Another Round won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. With a really intelligent script, excellent performances and interesting ideas on the nature of drinking, all coming together in a showstopper of an ending, this is an engaging, funny and powerful film.

My Rating: 5/5

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