Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round is an off-kilter, rollicking ride. It’s a euphoric experience that you will simply not forget. Teeming with copious levels of energy and shot in a stylistically invigorating style, its diversion from any formalism allows for pure immersion. Vinterberg’s fine balancing of tragedy, humor, and alcohol-infused nausea proves to be masterful from the very start. Almost as much as an experiment in film as an experiment in alcohol, its case study-like structure proves fascinating and ever-captivating.
We follow Martin (Mads Mikkelson), a Danish history teacher who seems to have lost his teaching rhythm. Martin hangs out with three other teachers: Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe), and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang). As the four begin to realize their failings, they stumble across Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud and his theory of their blood-alcohol levels being too low. They gather together and agree to partake in this unruly experiment, during school time and not after eight in the evening.
The spectrum of highs and lows captured showcase Vinterberg’s absolute mastery in storytelling. For instance, delving into philosophical writings and their societal theories of alcohol and its effects, or jumping into an almost absurdist scene of the maddest dances you’ve ever seen, or cracking up the audience so bad with the cleverest of comedy beats. Although seemingly a purely euphoric celebration of alcohol on the cover, you come to understand that at its core, Another Round is a deeply humane story about life.
The film hails from Danish studio Zentropa, created by Lars Von Trier and populated by dynamic filmmakers like Thomas Vinterberg. In 1995, Von Trier and Vinterberg co-signed a manifesto for a new film movement titled “Dogme 95”, a dynamic and extreme approach to “take back power for the directors as artists”. They formed a set of cinematic rules to “purify” filmmaking and for many years, Vinterberg worked under Dogme 95’s principals. Today, he continues under a similar yet less constrained style. One of the principal rules was that the camera must be always handheld, and Vinterberg follows suit – it’s always moving in Another Round. Sturla Brandth Grøvlen’s cinematography is energetic and blissful in an unprecedented way.
Rammed with the most exciting and absurdist moments out of any film recently, Vinterberg’s film utilizes its character’s preposterous undertakings to form the most ridiculously obscene and hilarious junctures. The alcoholic proceedings are dynamically captured, while also being continuously compelling in its more intellectual side. Exhilarating and intoxicating, Another Round‘s musical-touch is to be marveled at. Scarlet Pleasure’s “What A Life” encapsulates the film’s essence, ending with an out-of-this-world Jazz ballet dance that is the perfect summary of Another Round‘s riveting spirit.
Though admirable in their experimentation, the effect felt in their alcoholic proceedings is deadly and threatens to decimate the four socially. These four characters are impeccably played by their actors. Mikkelson is extremely inviting and makes black-out drunkenness look very fun, simultaneously showing vulnerability in his character’s mid-aged crisis. In the end, Vinterberg’s film is a remarkably-made piece of high-functioning, witty entertainment.