Another Round (2020)

It’s not exactly a special film and gets bogged down by a narrative that is far more predictable than you think, but there’s a certain charm to how this alcohol-meets-schoolteachers drama plays out, backed by an indelible turn from Mads Mikkelsen. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #2,192

Dir. Thomas Vinterberg
2020 | Denmark | Drama/Comedy | 115 mins | 2.00:1 | Danish & Swedish
M18 (passed clean) for sexual scene and some coarse language [Note: The PG13 version is commercially-censored.]

Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang
Plot: Four friends, all high school teachers, test a theory that they will improve their lives by maintaining a constant level of alcohol in their blood.
Awards: Won Best International Feature & Nom. for Best Director (Oscars); Official Selection (Toronto)
International Sales: TrustNordisk

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Midlife Crisis, Alcoholism
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: Screener
Spoilers: No

I’m of the opinion that this is a good but not great film, and I would have certainly voted for the more superior Quo Vadis, Aida? (2020) in the Oscar Best International Feature category.  Still, Another Round is worth a pop, just like that bottle of wine you’ve been itching to down. 

Mads Mikkelsen, in an indelible turn, is back working with writer-director Thomas Vinterberg since 2012’s The Hunt, and here he plays Martin, a schoolteacher who with three other colleagues decides to secretly experiment drinking a fixed amount of alcohol every day, hoping that they can perform optimally in their professional and social lives. 

It’s all for research, following Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skarderud’s belief that human beings are born with a blood alcohol content level that is 0.05% too low.  This makes for an interesting premise for a film about part-time ‘alcoholics’ who must work within their limits and not succumb to the lure of binge drinking. 

“You must accept yourself as fallible in order to love others and life.”

However, as the title suggests, it’s not easy as there’s always ‘another round’.  But it also suggests looking for another shot at life and living, which I think is what Vinterberg really wants to explore i.e. the pressures that come with a debilitating midlife crisis. 

However, he doesn’t quite go deep in this regard; neither does the narrative feel convincing ultimately, getting bogged down by familiar arcs and predictable scenarios. 

Still, Another Round is fairly accessible and entertaining, with its arthouse elements kept minimal.  There’s a certain charm to how everything plays out, and seeing Mikkelsen enjoying himself in the epilogue is one of the year’s most purely delightful moments. 

Grade: B+




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