Friday, December 18, 2020

film review: Another Round


Directed by Thomas Vinterberg

Written by Tobias Lindholm & Thomas Vinterberg

ChinoKino score: A

Review by Allan Tong

Suppose you went through daily life drunk?

This is the question that four jaded, middle-aged teachers in Denmark pose to each other, citing (and likely distorting) a scientific study that claims that humans are born with a 0.5 alcohol level shortfall. Martin (played by the superb Mads Mikkelsen) is the focus of this morality tale that balances drama with dark humour. Martin's marriage has gone stale and he bores his history students to the point of them openly revolting. Then, the four guys meet for a 40th birthday and vow to get tipsy, then progressively hammered to prove this theory. 

Did I mention that they were school teachers? Pretty soon, the gym teacher (finely played by Vinterberg veteran, Thomas Bo Larsen) hides bottles in the equipment room until the janitor discovers them. In contrast, Martin actually comes alive as the booze fuels his spirit. He makes love to his wife for the first time in ages, and excites his students when he teaches them about World War Two.

As their blood alcohol levels climb, the foursome get shitfaced. Hilariously (yet cringeworthy), they do a number at a bar and a supermarket, somehow escaping hospitalization and arrest. The film veers dangerously into comedy here and you wonder if Another Round doesn't take alcoholism seriously and instead treats it as a kid's game. Suddenly, in the next scene [no spoilers here], something bad happens and our boozehounds land on their faces (literally).

Another Round reunites the team behind 2012's superb The Hunt. Armed with a sharp script by Tobias Lindholm, director Vinterberg teeters vicariously between hard drama and moments of lunacy that keeps the viewer entranced. The movie is a dare that keeps you watching. Just how fucked up will these guys get before they hit a wall?

Sure, this approach is not PC and some will be offended by the lighthearted moments, but the morality rings true by the end of the film, like a belated hangover. Another Round is Denmark's submission as best picture to the Academy Awards, and deserves to be. Let's drink to that.

Another Round premieres in select Canadian theatres and appears on Apple TV and other VOD on Dec. 18. It is released by Mongrel Media.

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