- Another Round
- Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
- Written by Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm
- Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen and Magnus Millang
- Classification N/A; 117 minutes
With his newest feature film, Another Round, writer-director Thomas Vinterberg returns to one of his almost habitual fascinations: shaping narrative as a means of philosophical study.
Selected as the Danish entry for Best International Feature Film at next year’s Academy Awards, the Mads Mikkelsen-starring exercise in morality takes as its focus four schoolteachers who, having found themselves apathetically detached from their own lives, experiment with drinking consistently every day as a possible means to regain their lust for life.
Inspired by the work of Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud, who theorized that having a consistent blood alcohol level of 0.050 inspires greater creativity, relaxation and joy, the four men readily surrender their minds and bodies to exploring Skårderud’s hypothesis as a means to help shake off the banality of their respective midlife slumps.
Vinterberg is a master of storytelling and character here, bringing forth equal parts tragicomedy and suspense in a way that is refreshingly eager to be grounded in the ordinary realities of life. The social experiment that these men take on is punctuated by the highs and lows that they endure. We witness them clearly revitalized by their new perspectives, as well as in danger of losing what they previously held dear. The gains they experience in terms of their professional and private lives are quick to surface, but so too are the very real consequences they face as their shared venture not only continues, but intensifies.
In one of his most captivating performances to date, Mikkelsen’s portrayal of history teacher Martin is both urgent and serene. His realization of a man who becomes almost absent in his own life is made more effective by Mikkelsen’s restraint and ability to parse emotional depths with ease and a captivating truthfulness.
Martin is certainly one of long-time director Vinterberg’s most fully realized characters, and in tandem with Mikkelsen’s clear skill, lives on-screen as an elegant and introspective meditation on the ways that we navigate our own failings – especially when such self-perception is paired with a melancholic desire to return to a version of ourselves we may or may not have ever been.
Vinterberg enthusiastically shapes the tensions offered up by his narrative thesis and, unlike his debut Dogme 95 film The Celebration or the more recent (and notably morally ambiguous) The Hunt, here we are given a welcome dose of optimism in the form of the film’s energetic finish – an exuberant finale that will surely leave Mikkelsen fans delighted.
Perhaps it is a sign of a director more wizened to the myriad ways that the world shapes us both when we are at our best as well as worst (and growing comfortable with the mixed tableau of feelings offered up by this thing called life), but with Another Round, Vinterberg offers up a career highlight.
Another Round is available digitally on-demand starting Dec. 18
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