Review by Cathal Eustace
Another Round (2020) is director Thomas Vinterberg’s latest film, a filmmaker credited with being one of the most important figures in Danish cinema and one of the founding members of the Dogme95 movement. Another Round tells the story of a group of middle-aged Danish school teachers who decide to raise their blood alcohol content by 0.05% to see if it gives them a new lease on life. Mads Mikkelsen and Thomas Bo Larsson give wonderful performances and do not fail to capture the existential dread of being in your late forties with no sense of meaning and a failing marriage. They are accompanied by Magnus Millang and Lars Ranthe who keep up with aforementioned performances, although do not seem to have the on screen magnetism of Mikkelsen or Bo Larsson.
“I remember how it was to be 16, coming home at four in the morning and smelling the spring flowers, being in love, and being drunk. That is the starting point of all joy. And we’re all still yearning for that somehow.” – Vinterberg
Inevitably the teachers’ plan gets out of hand and they face the negative repercussions of their actions. However, we are not presented with a black and white, ‘alcohol is good/bad’ situation. It affects our characters both positively and negatively in this story- it is up to our own judgement. This film was intended to be a celebration of alcohol and in some regards it is, however during the making of this film Vinterberg’s youngest daughter passed away in a tragic car accident. The only way he could continue to make this film whilst processing the grief of losing her was by making it a celebration of life, which I find more aptly suits the film’s message. Throughout the film our school teachers interact with their pupils who face the struggles of modern adolescence: what could have been a clichéd exchange between two generations of Danish actors proves to be a heart-felt, shared experience between pupil and mentor, both of whom are using alcohol as a means to cope.
Vinterberg’s first Dogme 95 film Festen deals with childhood trauma and racism, and was a worthy critique of Denmark in the late 90s, sending waves throughout the world of cinema. I can promise you that Another Round will not have the same impact. Modern society is facing environmental extinction, threatened democracy, police brutality against minorities and rampant bigotry. This film exists apart from the most important themes of 21st century life and unfortunately fails to possess any relevance to the modern zeitgeist. It is an enjoyable watch, features brilliant performances and beautiful lighting, and deals with a universal struggle with alcohol. But that is all and its lack of pertinence will see it become one of Vinterberg’s lesser-celebrated works.