Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt) returns to the topic of a group of individuals undergoing a mid-life crisis in his latest movie Another Round (Druk). In a way, Another Round comes dressed in the same sort of angst that colored his 2016 movie The Commune, in which a Danish family, grappling with the blues of ennui borne from normalcy (to use the only word I could attach), make a bold decision: to establish a sort of group living, a collective, in which everyone would be family and a renewed sense of creative liberty would flourish. Like many experiments that have ventured into the unknown and unpredictable, this one was laden with thorns from the onset, and it was only time before the cracks began showing within the foundation, and a long day’s journey into dissolution would take place.
Such is the case for the scenario in Another Round, which reunites Mads Mikkelsen and Thomas Bo Larsen as friends who teach at the local high school alongside two others. The quartet seems to be going through the motions and rather self-aware of it. On a lark, they realize that they need to somehow “spice things up” within their humdrum lives and base their findings on a Norwegian psychiatrist who argues that the blood alcohol level of people is always a bit too low. Should people consume at least one drink a day they would see a marked change in their mood and end depression.
At first, matters do seem to improve, especially within Martin’s (Mikkelsen’s) marital life. Soon, the men start gathering, listening to 70s funk, recounting how the greatest writers and creative people have always found inspiration in alcohol consumption. [When names like Hemingway and Churchill start to get thrown around my critical eyebrow decided to come alive. While it might be true that Hemingway was and is an important literary figure, the men fail to observe that drinking in excess led to suicide. Churchill may have met a different fate, but it was also customary in society of the early part of the 20th Century to always drink.
It’s not long before matters start to get out of hand, and Vinterberg spares his main cast nothing in their trip to near self-destruction. He never allows his movie to go via the route of Blake Edwards Days of Wine and Roses – a film that nearly 60 years ago was audacious in showing the ravages of alcoholism – but he still shows enough to makes us worry for the fates of his characters. Another Round shows us careers getting smashed to bits, families being torn apart, and one man ending on a terrible note that could have been averted.
If the movie stops short of being sublime it’s because it goes into some slight sentimentality, but perhaps that was earned after witnessing four men literally drowning in alcohol addiction. A scene in which one of the teachers coaxes a student to have a drink in order to pass a crucial exam arrives with a note of falsity that didn’t quite gel once it was over. However, Another Round does manage to get saved by Its final scene. Even when it is a bit escapist, it gets acted and danced the hell out by Mikkelsen (a dancer by trade), whose performance gives the movie its glimmer of hope.