Updated: Feb 12, 2021
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
My disclaimer is that I am not a drinker, nor have been for many years.
‘Another Round’ fascinated me on so many levels including my teetotaller status. It is a cracker movie, totally non-formulaic, and a tragi-comedy that hits all the notes through the personal relationships of its four protagonists (‘Martin’ (Mads Mikkelsen), Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Nikolaj (Magnus Millang), and Peter (Lars Ranthe)). All these men are going through various forms of disappointment with life … one not coping with the domestic reality of four young children, another with a relationship that has become perfunctory, the other two in states of loneliness; all suffering a certain existential grief.
This group of middle aged Danish intellectuals/teachers decide to explore the premise of psychiatrist Finn Skårderud, who proposed the theory that the human body is naturally 0.05 percent deficient in alcohol. Could life be better if they make up the difference? They start a collective dissertation on a laptop as they toast to their objective, putting in a few boundaries (no drinking past 8:00 pm or on weekends seem to only ones, actually).
Initially they appear to be proving Skårderud’s theory, their classes become more compelling, their students become more engaged, their relationships regain a little sizzle, their lives basically become more fun and they feel they are performing better in their various roles. So far so good.
Then the premise of their experiment changes. Instead of trying to maintain that .05 blood alcohol level, they decide to dig/imbibe more deeply to find their personal blood alcohol level best(s). This change in rules brings joy, discovery, pain and loss. Their dissertation becomes alert to anti-social behaviour and alcoholism as we watch one of the team descend into alcoholism. Interestingly, the other three appear to reach a cathartic moment en route in their obvious declines, where they find a window to turn their lives around. The experiment essentially illuminated the pain in their lives and gave them an opportunity to deal with what they had previously avoided before the experiment.
Compelling and intriguing. ’Another Round’ certainly didn’t make me feel like having a drink but it does show how alcohol can both make the good times better and the bad times worse.
Do see ‘New Scientist’s take on ‘Another Round’ (Another Round review: Would we benefit from always being a bit drunk? | New Scientist.) It completely poo-poos Skårderud’s theory but don’t let this dissuade you from seeing the film!
I’m loving this movie for its unique take on friendship, alcohol and the fact that eventually it (the movie) is so uplifting.