Directed and co-written by Thomas Vinterberg (who also directed 2012’s The Hunt), Another Round sounds like the beginning of a joke: Four friends, all middle-aged high-school teachers, walk into a restaurant to celebrate a 40th birthday.
They laugh, drink and celebrate until the conversation turns to Martin (played by Mikkelsen). He has, we learn, been seemingly bereft of joy for some years; the vigour in his life is gone.
After some discussion, the friends decide that, in an experiment to turn the lights back on in their lives, they will sustain an 0.05 per cent blood-alcohol level every day between the hours of 8am and 8pm… except weekends.
They continue to laugh and drink into the next school day and conduct their experiment over the weeks that follow. The results initially seem positive, with their lustre seeming to have returned, but complications lie ahead.
Another Round is a brilliant film which has the audience on board for the entire journey: for every up, every down, for every round, and for when everything falls apart.
The script is touching, melancholic and beautiful. Vinterberg and co-writer Tobias Lindholm (who previously collaborated on The Hunt) ask tough questions in an interrogation of drinking culture, but never firmly settle on which side they stand.
Some movie-goers will have become accustomed to villainous performances from Mikkelsen, whose credits also include the TV series Hannibal, but here the entire spectrum of his talent is on display. He draws the audience’s focus, with an impressive ability to invoke both a deep sadness and a lively spirit.
The ensemble case is also strong, especially Thomas Bo Larsen, who gives a simultaneously riotous and cathartic performance as experiment participant Tommy.
At times, Another Round reminds of Danny Boyle’s 1996 film Trainspotting, with its dark comedic themes, although Vinterberg’s film steers far closer to a celebration and life-affirming experience. It is a perfect syncronisation of direction and screenplay.
This is a film with a beautiful beating heart enormously in tune with its moral lesson: moderation in all things, including moderation.
Another Round is screening as part of the Adelaide Film Festival, with further screenings on October 18 (Palace Nova Prospect) and October 24 (Wallis Cinemas Mitcham).
The 2020 Adelaide Film Festival continues until October 25. Read more previews and stories here.