‘Another Round’ Review: Mads Mikkelsen’s Best Performance in Years

The Danish director Thomas Vinterberg has managed to come up with an unusual take on a common yet overlooked problem in our society – alcoholism.

‘Another Round follows a story of four middle-aged teachers – all men – who decide to subject themselves to a daredevil experiment. Their cunning plan is to maintain a constant alcohol content in the blood. The dangerous experiment is based on a theory of a Norwegian philosopher and psychiatrist, Finn Skårderud, who says humans are born with alcohol deficiency in their bodies. All four main characters, all boring and lackluster in equal measure are up for a challenge to see how affects their professional abilities and interpersonal skills. The film is a character study of alcoholism from a new side – more relatable, more humane, and even fun.

‘Another Round’ might be described as a tragicomedy about the pleasures and perils of drinking. Little did Vinterberg know that the film will be released so timely, to coincide with raging loneliness and the dramatic rise of alcohol consumption in Europe.

Mads Mikkelsen Star Wars Rogue One London Premiere © Joe Alvarez

Mads Mikkelsen © JOE ALVAREZ

Back to the plot. Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), was once a stellar teacher but, alas, he’s a bit lackluster. His pupils don’t respect him; his wife, Trine (Maria Bonnevie) is more preoccupied with his mobile phone and her work. One evening at a birthday party of Nikolai (Magnus Millang), Martin breaks into tears – too much pressure, too much boredom. The alcohol helps to relieve the stress on the night and the group has the best time since their school years.

Encouraged by the experience, Martin and his friends agree that they’ll go to school and try drinking at work as an experiment, recording the results as if they were composing a scientific research paper. Following some days of trials and errors, the group decides to increase the intake of alcohol – we know, a pretty bad idea.

After this moment, the film turns into a movie about what happens to four men who drink too much. While boozing at work allows the group to ‘loosen up’ and connect with the moment and their students, one of the teachers – Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen) loses control over the habit. First, his secret stash is discovered, then he manages to turn up pissed at the teachers’ meeting. Things are going down the hill for Tommy.

Mads Mikkelsen, Kirsten Dunst Cannes Film Festival 2016 © Joe Alvarez

Mads Mikkelsen, Kirsten Dunst © JOE ALVAREZ

There is more drama in the film – family issues in Martin’s family escalate, Nikolaj’s wife leaves him. Thomas drowns having fallen drunk off the boat. But the fans of Mads are in for a treat – a spectacular and envigorating dance routine by the actor makes up for all the drama and heartache of the film.

The director managed to unpeel the superficial layers of our daily lives and show us our familiar anxieties, frustrations, dissatisfaction in all their glory as we know them – now more so than ever. Unhealthy life coping skills is something we can all relate to in one way or another. And in times like that, the film has hit the nail on the head.

With the abundance of close-ups, we couldn’t stop thinking that Maria looks too young – she isn’t – for the role while Tommy’s face looks like he was struggling with alcoholism long before their experiment.

But the close-ups achieve something else too – the motion picture invites viewers to revel in the emotional cues so well delivered by Mads Mikkelsen and Maria Bonnevie and makes the experience of watching the film a very personal one.

The film is distributed in the UK by Studiocanal and was scheduled for initial release in spring 2020. The UK release was postponed due to the coronavirus restrictions.

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