Review by Sean Boelman
The second collaboration between filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg and actor Mads Mikkelsen after their extraordinary drama The Hunt, the comedy-drama Another Round couldn’t be more different from the film that established them both as significant players. Taking full advantage of its wacky premise, it’s a very funny film that also packs a surprising emotional punch.
The film follows a group of teachers who try to find a new way to connect with their students by setting out to maintain a constant blood alcohol level throughout the day. And while this may sound like the set-up for the most absurd drinking comedy ever, and to an extent it is, it’s also an examination of how people come to terms with the world around them, or refuse to do so.
Much of the story follows the expected beats apart from a couple moments that are definitely surprising (for better or worse), but it isn’t the plot that makes the film stand out — it’s the way in which Vinterberg and co-writer Tobias Lindholm pull so much insightfulness and humor out of an inherently ridiculous concept.
The film is at its best when it features the four lead characters together, having very drunken and somewhat philosophical conversations. The fish-out-of-water comedy is great, and that happens mostly in scenes where they are on their own, but the dynamic between the group is what will create that emotional investment.
Mikkelsen gives another phenomenal performance in the lead role, although one would expect nothing less. He’s more known for his serious and darker work, so it’s nice to get to see him let loose a bit… and take advantage of some of the special skills on his resumé. Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, and Magnus Millang round out the quartet quite well.
There is an attempt to explore each of the character’s personal lives, and ultimately, the audience will care far less about these subplots than the central story. These asides are well-written, but viewers will find themselves thinking more about the experiment when they are supposed to be concerned about the character’s marriage.
This is also a much more conventional film than much of what Vinterberg has made recently (aside from maybe Kursk). And while there are some stylistic flourishes as anticipated, in addition to a finale that will blow most viewers away, this film returns the filmmaker to his roots of focusing on the emotion of the performances more than the cinematic medium.
Another Round is just as wonderful and lovely as one can ask for. Even though it’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from Vinterberg and Mikkelsen’s last collaboration, it shows that they are a dynamic duo in the making no matter what material they are working with.
Another Round screened as a part of the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival which ran September 10-19.