Another Round

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Thomas Vinterberg's Another Round, which comes complete with the Cannes label
"Shot with a loose but observant style that captures energy and thoughtfulness in all the right places." | Photo: Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival

The beguiling, intoxicating and sometimes dangerous nature of friendship and alcohol are the twin engines that drive Thomas Vinterberg's latest film, which does an admirable job of balancing the positive and negative aspects of both.

Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) and Peter (Lars Ranthe) are teachers at the same senior school who are all flirting with midlife crisis. History teacher Martin seems to have lost his mojo in the classroom and at home, where his encounters with his night-shift working wife Anika (Marie Bonnevie) are more practical than emotional. His colleaguesTommy and Peter are on the other side of failed marriages, while Nikolaj has just hit 40 and is trying to cope with the pressures his young family are applying to his relationship with Amalie (Helene Reingaard Neumann).

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Just the right cocktail of ennui with life, then, to be up for the experiment when one of them suggests they test out Norwegian philosopher Finn Skårderud's theory that if humans were to maintain a 0.005% alcohol buzz they would perform better. There's something charmingly cack-handed about the way they go about this - with Martin swigging vodka in the school loos and gym teacher Tommy stashing booze in the kit room - that emphasises the way that the more juvenile aspects of life can endure long into adulthood. Vinterberg and his co-writer Tobias Lindholm's consideration of youthfulness versus age is also explored through the kids in the school, who we initially see embarked on a lakeside drinking race that puts your average British pub crawl into the shade.

The positives of "loosening up" form the film's first part, although it's no surprise that the tale will hold more cautionary aspects as it, and the men's experiment, progresses and becomes more involved and extreme. If the trajectory of the film might be written in the stars from the start, the manner of the execution is never less than absorbing. Mikkelsen plays Martin as a man who is gradually realising just how out of touch with his own life he has become, while Bo Larsen brings a sort of quiet desperation to Tommy, his thoughtfulness for others, including his ageing dog and the bespectacled kid on the school team who lacks confidence, in contrast to his lack of consideration of his own wellbeing.

Rams and Victoria cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen adds yet another excellent entry to a 2020 catalogue that has also included Last And First Men, Wendy and Shirley. He shoots with a loose but observant style that captures energy and thoughtfulness in all the right places, whether he's plunging into the melee of a night on the booze or drinking in the dinner table conversations of the four men in ways that never feel static, the Norwegian light adding shadows and coolness as required. The mood in general is marked by longing and hopefulness that shows the flaws of the men while not forgetting the positives, particularly in the dancing scenes which pop up at just the right moments and show that Mikkelsen has some serious moves. Watch it and raise a glass to complexity and friendship.

Reviewed on: 13 Dec 2020
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Another Round packshot
Martin and three of his friends, all weary high school teachers, embark on an experiment to maintain a constant level of intoxication throughout the workday.

Festivals:

SSFF 2020
London 2020

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