Thomas Vinterberg’s “Another Round” is about the dangers of adult complacency. However, the film itself is in no way monotonous. Instead, Vinterberg explores the dynamics of friendship and marriage through the sprightly theme of alcohol. It’s beautiful, melancholic, and a distinct departure from Vinterbeg’s past films. I thoroughly enjoyed “Another Round.”
The film tells the story of four high school teachers trapped in day to day life. To disrupt the monotony, they decide to test the Skarderud blood alcohol theory by drinking on a daily basis – all in the name of research, of course. Some of the men, like Mads Mikkelsen’s Martin, find success and renewal in the consistent consumption. Others, like Thomas Bo Larsen’s Tommy, showcase the destructive side of alcoholism.
The boozing, however, is merely the Maguffin of the film. The real pathos of the film comes from Vinterberg’s intimate portrayal of middle-aged adults and the lack of excitement synonymous with routine. His use of high school teachers as the vehicles for the story is genius, as very few professions have as regimented of a schedule as teachers. Vinterberg again employs the Dogme 95 filmmaking style perfected by him and Lars von Trier. Everything is shot on location, giving the film a naturalism akin to “The Hunt” and “The Commune.” Also, his use of handheld camera movements provide an almost voyeuristic feel to scenes at sweaty Danish pubs or within one of the men’s bedrooms.
However, the true star of the film is Mads Mikkelsen, delivering a career defining performance as the withdrawn Martin. He deftly transforms from the stoic male he’s perfected over the years, to the eclectic Martin who monologues on Winston Churchill and is in love with jazz ballet. For an actor defined by his early work, it’s refreshing to see Mikkelsen having this much fun on camera. The supporting cast is equally strong, particularly Thomas Bo Larsen. His portrayal of the depressed Tommy is among his best and he continues to prove he’s one of the greatest Danish actors working.
Some critics have chastised the Academy for Vinterberg’s nomination in a Best Director category categorized once again by its absence of black directors. And while I do agree the inclusivity of the category is something to be desired, I don’t we should indict other directors as a result. Vinterberg, like the unrecognized Regina King and Spike Lee, deserved a nomination. “Another Round” is certainly a top 3 film of his, and hopefully audiences get a chance to see it now that it’s streaming on Hulu.