Another Round is the latest Thomas Vinterberg film. Vinterberg made his name with Lars Von Trier as one of the masterminds behind the Dogme 95 movement—or as Terry Gilliam once elegantly called it, “Dogmeshit.” Much like Von Trier, Vinterberg pretty quickly dropped those dogmatic rules of filmmaking for something more formal, and for the better. Another Round would go on to dominate the best foreign language films category in most of the awards shows this year, and for good reason—it’s pretty fantastic.
For Mads Mikkelsen, this is his second collaboration with Vinterberg—his first was The Hunt, which is still my favourite, and utterly destroyed me. Here, Mikkelsen plays Martin, a schoolteacher. Martin and his group of male friends are all approaching middle age. They go out for a dinner celebrating one of their 40th birthdays, where they end up discussing the views of psychiatrist Finn Skårderud, who believes humans have a blood alcohol content deficiency of 0.05, and that if you are above that you will be happier and more creative. Martin is having various problems in his marriage and is suffering from depression, so he decides to try an experiment of keeping his BAC level at 0.05, and soon his friends join him in this experiment.
Vinterberg was initially inspired by the drinking culture amongst Danish youth via stories he would hear from his daughter. Tragedy struck four days into the shoot, when his daughter Ida died in a car accident. That changed his perspective on the story, so he decided “It should not just be about drinking. It was about being awakened to life.” The resulting film walks a fine line, a balancing act of celebrating the positive aspects of drinking but never shying away from some of the self-destructive aspects either. Vinterberg and the main cast would often somewhat drunk when they made the film, but never overdoing it so much that it would be dangerous to their health or performances. They also used YouTube videos of people being incredibly paralytically drunk for reference and inspiration for the scenes where they had to be in a similar state.
The film is also incredibly funny. The Danes have a very particular sense of dark humour, although this is a little lighter in tone. The film builds up to the best dance sequence since Beau Travail, although it’s a more celebratory or tonally uplifting scene than that one. The performances are all top-notch—the ensemble of actors have worked together for years and years, often with Vinterberg, and Mikkelsen continues to show that he is simply one of the greatest living actors. Another Round is one of the best films of the last year, and it’s surprisingly accessible.
The Blu-Ray is fairly barebones, with just the trailer and an interview with Vinterberg and Mikkelsen as extras.