Drinking can be either one of the best or worst experiences in someone’s life. There are numerous reasons why it can be one or the other, but it’s a nearly global factor in day to day life. Denmark is a country with a fairly relaxed attitude towards alcohol, so it’s a prime place to set a boozy tale like this. Another Round is a dramedy about how a certain amount of drinks in your system can combat a midlife crisis. Too little and you’re in a rut. Too much and you’re an alcoholic. As much as this sounds like tricky material, it’s not. The film winds up being as funny as it is serious, with Mads Mikkelsen delivering another top notch performance at its core.
Another Round has an American remake almost assuredly in its future. However, it will likely struggle to capture the tone here, which is a shame. Part of what makes this movie so good is that it balances comedy and drama so well. A remake will either lean too heavily into the comedic aspects, making it a slapstick farce, or it’ll go in the other direction, becoming darker than necessary. Thomas Vinterberg‘s latest is just right, tonally.
As someone who rarely drinks, yet loves Leaving Las Vegas, alcohol is inherently cinematic to me. So, seeing it get a unique treatment here is utterly compelling. In some ways, it’s used how marijuana is in cinema, almost as if this is the drinker’s version of an upscale stoner flick. It may sound odd in theory, but in practice, it works.
The hook here is that four friends have decided to test a theory. They’re longtime pals and each high school teachers. Martin (Mikkelsen) especially seems to be in a rut, disengaged in his History class. At home, his wife Anika (Maria Bonnevie) barely recognized the vibrant man she married. So, one night, while at a birthday dinner for one of his friends, a study comes up. The study suggests that humans function best with a little alcohol in their system. Nikolaj (Magnus Millang), Peter (Lars Ranthe), and Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen) are eager to put it to the test. With a little cajoling, Martin is along for the ride, too. In fact, he tries it first, with interesting results.
Noticing that a few drinks makes them better teachers, as well as more fun to be around, they keep adding to it. While chronicling it all for a research paper, they see their lives largely improve. Of course, there’s a point of no return, and as each reach theirs, will they be able to turn back?
Mads Mikkelsen anchors the movie with a performance that’s incredibly effective. He’s truly a star here. This takes nothing away from the rest of the cast, mind you. Maria Bonnevie, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, and Lars Ranthe each do fine work. Mikkelsen just goes above and beyond. Especially considering his capacity for menace, the heart he displays is really something. Mikkelsen is always good, but this is some of his best work yet.
Thomas Vinterberg gets to have more fun as a filmmaker than he’s ever had before. This is still a seriocomic vibe, but Vinterberg and his co-writer Tobias Lindholm keep the vibe on the lighter side. Working once again with Mads Mikkelsen (after the great success of The Hunt), they coax the aforementioned strong work out of him, as well as the rest of the cast. Vinterberg’s direction remains utterly confident and grounded, but it’s the screenplay here that shines. Lindholm and Vinterberg weave humor, heart, and seriousness together with aplomb. If not for a slightly bloated running time and some repetition, this may well have turned out to be one of the year’s best films.
Another Round is almost primed for an American remake, as mentioned above. Before we get it, it may well end up winning an Oscar for Best International Feature. Regardless of its status as a likely Academy Award nominee, this is just a very strong dramedy, with Mads Mikkelsen turning in the sort of layered work a film fan loves to see. Available to watch tomorrow, it goes down easy.