Another Round (2020)

"Yes. His claim is that when you have a 0.05% BAC you’re more relaxed, and poised, and musical, and open.”"Yes. His claim is that when you have a 0.05% BAC you’re more relaxed, and poised, and musical, and open.”

“Yes. His claim is that when you have a 0.05% BAC you’re more relaxed, and poised, and musical, and open.”

We all know that feeling when a tiny bit of alcohol enters our systems. Everything changes – we can relax, feel the pressure loosen up and become ourselves. That’s the experiment set out to be conducted in Another Round or Druk in Danish. Four high school teachers and friends who have lost their spark in life, seeing everyday as a never-ending loop decide to drink every day to reach 0.05% on their breathalyzers. Each has their own struggling daily life they are wishing to escape but the true focus in director Thomas Vinterberg’s film is Martin (Mads Mikkelsen). Out of the four, he’s the one that is too far gone or initially gives off the impression of it.

Martin’s passion is gone – he is no longer the same teacher he was when he was younger (he teaches History), and his home life is essentially non-existent with his wife and two sons. Going out to celebrate Nikolaj’s (Magnus Millang) 40th birthday, the four come up with this plan based on psychiatrist Finn Skarderud theory that we as humans are born with a blood alcohol content 0.05 too little and that keeping your BAC at a 0.05 consistently can keep a person more relaxed and creative. 

There are rules to this – only drink during work hours (all four work at the same school) and no drinking past 8 pm. Within days of drinking consistently, their moods improve most notably Martin. He’s able to reconnect with his wife and kids while re-igniting his passion for teaching. Individually, Martin, Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Nikolaj, & Peter (Lars Ranthe) find success with thin the restrictions of the experiment – life is good and can only get better. In that headspace they begin to expand the variables: drink more to keep your BAC at higher and higher levels. This works, to an extent.

“We’re not alcoholics. We decide when we want to drink. An alcoholic can’t help himself.”

Easily Another Round could have played out like a straight comedy but instead, Thomas Vinterberg highlights the many different realistic stages of what being an alcoholic is actually like with genuine comedic moments thrown in here and there. Sturla Brandth Grøvlen’s cinematography captures the off-balance way we act and how we see ourselves – sort of having an out of body experience accurately. The camera sways in the opposite direction the character is moving and a great example of this is when Martin strolls into work a little tipsy and proceeds to get his coffee, nearly knock into his colleagues and walks directly into the door giving himself a bloody nose. Chalk it up to being a klutz even with the suspicions from other teachers. 

Another Round is a roller coaster of emotions. There’s the beginning of the ride in which all four have improved lives – at work and home. Tommy has grown fond of a boy on his soccer team named specs while students in the music class find their voice singing from their hears instead of looking at the lyrics and reading them.  When the coaster reaches the top, the four friends start binge drinking to keep the endorphin levels at an all-time high and finally the drop – Martin falls, has a gash on his forehead and learns that his wife committed adultery and Nikolaj ends up crawling up the stairs, getting in bed with his wife and having an accident.  

Vinterberg’s screenplay uncovers the deep scarring lasting effects that alcoholism can have on a person and a relationship. Mads in particular easily conveys these emotions with his performance. We are able to sympathize with his character every step of the way from losing his passion to finding it again and finally feeling like himself being happy to losing his family. He lost the meaning of living and seeing how precious life really is. Life hit each of them pretty hard and when the experiment suddenly stopped when Martin left his wife, they all agree to stop this experiment. Their drinking opened up scars that were barely staying closed. Tommy didn’t get the memo – his tragic end is the sad, unfortunate end some people leave behind to their loved ones. Vinterberg subtly clues us in on the lasting effects of alcoholism without explicitly stating it. It’s a disease that at one point or another has touched every single person and it catches up with these four friends. 

“So, when you run around totally wasted, throwing up in bushes and alleys, don’t feel alone, because you’re in great company.”

Another Round shifts tones often throughout its runtime. Moments of carefree living and feeling good easily transition into a darker more serious nature. Evenly paced moments when the four have a dance party is necessary to break up the film, to let us live in the moment as Martin, Nikolaj, Tommy and Peter are. Even when all is lost and the loss of their friend weighs heavily on their conscience, helping their students graduate gives them true meaning and purpose, in Martin’s case – rekindling the love he presumed lost. The final scene is so sincere for Martin as he celebrates with his students being his true self. 

Another Round or Druk is a celebration of life while simultaneously a deep look into how alcohol can affect a person. Mads Mikkelsen isn’t afraid to bare his soul as Martin and delivers an incredible sincere performance along with his co-stars. Vinterberg never plays it safe or keeps things surface level. Cinematography, pacing and music make Another Round whole without leaning too far into the comedic nature a film about getting wasted may cause. If I were to rate Another Round, I’d rate it a 4.5 out of 5.

So, tell me, have you seen Another Round and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think. 

Another Round is written & directed by Thomas Vinterberg is Rated R and has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Another Round was released on December 4, 2020 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 57 minutes. Another Round can be purchased by online retailers like iTunes, Google, and Amazon.

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