ANOTHER ROUND | FILM REVIEW
Dir: Thomas Vinterberg (15, 113 mins)
A brilliant dissection of a very masculine midlife crisis with a quartet of superb performances, Another Round is funny and sad in equal measure. Mads Mikklesen stars as Martin, a teacher who has lost his way: mumbling through classes, no longer connecting with his wife and kids, he has closed down and lost his spark. A drunken evening with fellow friends and workmates – Magnus Millang’s philosophy teacher Nikolaj, music teacher Peter (Lars Ranthe) and sports teacher Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen) – is a welcome release, and these middle aged men long to recover their mojos.
Nikolaj suggests a daring experiment. Alcohol had added to their night, releasing them from worries, nerves, freeing them up – so why not see if they can keep their blood alcohol level at 0.5% while they teach? It could help them become better, less constrained, funnier, risk takers. Initially, this has the desired effect: all get a new lease of life, it seems, whilst also being half-cut all the time. Mikkelsen’s teaching becomes energized, Ranthe thinks outside the box and Larsen helps bespectacled boys out of their shells. They start to up the dosage, pushing the experiment on, and decide to go on a complete bender which proves rather catastrophic.
Writer/director Vinterberg never loses sight of the melancholy in these lives – the thwarted ambitions, never living in the now – and whilst seeing teachers trying to not be drunk in the classroom is funny, it soon becomes tragic. Mikkelson, reteaming with Vinterberg after the excellent The Hunt, has never been better as a figure worn down by life, unable to find joy and looking for ways to improve, to rekindle love with his wife (played by Maria Bonnevie) and finding release in alcohol. The drink is seen as an emotional crutch, a replacement for connecting, but linked to a wider, inexplicable masculine malaise that the film expertly addresses.
A final moment in the film works brilliantly as a bittersweet catharsis, and illustrates Mikkelsen’s jazz ballet skills into the bargain, but Another Round offers no easy answers with its layered, complex portraits of men. A film well worth toasting.
Out in cinemas on Fri 2 July
words KEIRON SELF