The Oscar-winning film by Thomas Vinterberg is a tale of excess, youth, adulthood and midlife crisis
Another Round can be mistaken for the umpteenth work about alcohol abuse, but it’s not. First of all, it’s not a full-blown drama and it doesn’t have the playful shades of The Hangover (2009): the latest film by Danish director Thomas Vinterberg is more a dry but pleasant tragicomedy which is half way between them.
Written by Vinterberg himself, with Tobias Lindholm, the film premiered in Italy at the 2020 edition of Rome Film Fest and subsequently received many awards including one BAFTA, four European Film Awards and one Oscar. The film debuts in Italy on May 20, 2021.
Another Round (original title: Druk) is the story of four middle-aged teachers, Martin, Tommy, Nikolaj and Peter, demotivated by the routine and responsibilities of their daily life. They are friends who work in the same school and, during a dinner, they try to find a way to change their lives. Martin, played by an extraordinary Mads Mikkelsen, seems the most problematic of the group: over the years he lost is youthful spirit, his marriage is going through a crisis, he lost his deep bond with his kids and his authority at school. Thanks to Nikolaj, the four discover that, according to a strange theory, a small amount of alcohol every day can give them back their vitality. Martin starts the experiment with excellent results and the others follow but, on the long term, the four will experience huge side effects on their work and their relationships.
Vinteberg’s camera follows the characters comparing the slowness of their lives to the urgency of their students: Another Round is an interesting portrait of two generations deeply-settled in Danish culture which, no matter the age gap have still something to share. Since the beginning of the film we feel exactly like Martin: stuck in an unsatisfying life, made of boredom, responsibilities and lack of deep bonds. In a certain way, Martin’s friends are his only escape hatch.
As I walked out of the cinema a colleague asked my opinion about the film and soon pointed out: « It doesn’t say a word about the Alcoholics Anonymous.»
To Italian viewers (and maybe to most Europeans) Another Round might seem less aggressive on the subject than it should be. The film opens with a very explicit sequence: a quote by philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (“What is youth? A dream. What is love? The dream’s content”) followed by a disturbing drinking marathon among teenagers. Of course this is a film about excess, but it’s also about youth, adulthood, free spirits, trapped spirits and a midlife crisis.
Thomas Vinterberg reports a cultural situation without condemning it, but leaving the judgement to viewers. In the opening scene, you get the idea that this is not the “teenage regular alcohol abuse”, but more a Scandinavian way of life that you can justify until you’re young and you don’t have much to lose. But the four characters are adults who, even facing a terrible outcome of their experiment, are still uncertain on which path to take. The same will happen to Martin that, at the end of the film, finds himself at a very important crossroads. Which way will he take? Again, the final judgement is left to viewers.