“Another Round”: Comedy, Tragedy, and Life Found Through Alcoholism

Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg’s newest film “Another Round” (or “Druk” in Danish) explores several facets of life, family, and death through the effects of alcohol on the human brain. With its unique plot, effective ensemble of actors, and fresh direction and writing from Vinterberg, the film manages to capture a unique spirit and an intriguing theme.

“Another Round” follows four high-school teachers in urban Denmark who have been friends since their youth. One night, they go out to a restaurant to celebrate the fortieth birthday of Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) and come to discuss a psychiatrist’s theories that the average human is born with too low a blood-alcohol-content level. The quartet decide to start an experiment about this theory, and each vow to drink enough to have a BAC of 0.05 on weekdays, not drinking after 8 p.m. or on weekends in the fashion of Ernest Hemingway. History teacher Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), who is having troubles at home and with his class, reluctantly joins his friends’ experiment. Throughout the following weeks, the four keep up the experiment to see how it affects their work. With interesting and sometimes comic results, Martin begins to excel in teaching his previously uninterested class, but experiences more rough patches with his wife. Gym teacher Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen) begins to coach a little-league soccer team. The group begins to increase the dangers of their experiment, but they have to deal with the consequences as their plans go awry and their dependency increases. 

In all aspects, “Another Round” is a consistently well-made film. The acting in it, especially the actors playing the four friends, is what brings the most vigor and life to the film. The standout of this group is the seasoned Mads Mikkelsen, who brings a sense of hidden despair, tiredness, and mid-life crisis to Martin. Thomas Bo Larsen also shines alongside Mikkelsen; he makes Tommy a gruff, humorous, but ultimately endearing character. These two, alongside Magnus Millang, Lars Ranthe, and the cast portraying family members and students, turn “Another Round” into a funny and interesting ensemble film.

Perhaps the real star of “Another Round” is writer and director Thomas Vinterberg, who came to international prominence with films like “The Celebration” and “The Hunt.” This film is definitely Vinterberg’s most personal – it is dedicated to his daughter Ida, who urged him to make the film and was originally meant to star as one of Martin’s children before her tragic death just days into filming. The film’s ideas and themes were rewritten to become more optimistic after this harrowing event and the love and life Vinterberg has put into “Another Round” shows how he is honoring his daughter in every frame. His delicate handling of the theme of alcoholism, the subtlety shown as each character spirals through their journey and back out again, and the energy and craziness expressed in the film’s euphoric final scene all showcase Vinterberg at his best. 

The production aspects of “Another Round” are not lacking, either. The production design of the teachers’ school, their homes, the bars and other locations they visit, and the outside world of Denmark, all bring a new level of realism to the story. The cinematography and editing are especially brilliant as the effects of alcohol on the four friends becomes evident, with staggering cuts and blurry shots that make the viewer feel as if they are seeing the world through one of the characters’ impaired lenses. The sound is impressive, as it fuses the sound of the world and the music in and out of the film’s setting, with little effort.

“Another Round” is definitely one of the most unique films of the past year from any country. A plot that seems far-fetched and unique is made into an endearing vision and touching tribute. Vinterberg’s passion and personality have made “Another Round” as great a film as it is, and people have taken note. In fact, Vinterberg has been nominated for the Best Director award at the Oscars and the film itself is the frontrunner for Best International film.

4.5/5 Feathers