Drinking culture, middle age and the price of happiness are examined in this comedy drama from Denmark. Mads Mikkelsen plays Martin, a school teacher and former dancer who finds himself in a rut. He feels uninspired by his work and disconnected from his wife Anika (Maria Bonnevie). He finds a possible answer for his malaise during a birthday meal with three colleagues. One of them mentions a theory that maintaining a blood alcohol level of 0.05 increases mood and creativity. Curious, Martin and his friends begin drinking small amounts to maintain that level, but initial positive results soon lead to complications.
Thomas Vinterberg, who brought us 90s landmark Festen and 2012 hit The Hunt, delves deep into the quiet desperation of his characters. These men are not bad people, they are simply unhappy, but this pursuit of another way of living soon affects everyone around them. That’s not to say this is a scare story about the dangers of drinking, as we witness the joy and passion that lower inhibitions bring out in Martin and his friends. If anything, Vinterberg presents the experiment as a way of unveiling the joy of life that can be found in all of us, with or without alcohol.
A talented ensemble brings the story to life, but this really is Mikkelsen’s movie. Known best to American viewers as a dastardly villain in films such as Casino Royale and Doctor Strange and TV show Hannibal, here he is allowed to play an everyman and succeeds in every sense. Martin’s quiet disconnection from life is something many viewers will relate to, meaning that however flawed his methods, you are always willing him on to find the answers.
Elsewhere, Thomas Bo Larson (Mikkelsen’s co-star in The Hunt) does a terrific job as Tommy, a colleague who falls down a dark path thanks to the experiment. As Anika, Bonnevie makes sure Martin’s story is more threedimensional, showing what it’s like to live with someone who simply won’t open up about their pain.
Another Round may be presented as a film about drinking culture, but in many ways it is more about our enjoyment of life. Thanks to a powerful performance from its lead, the film will leave audiences with a lot to think about, possibly over a few drinks.
Written by James Luxford