Another Round ★★★★½

Another Round (Druk) is an excellent film about the perils of middle-age malaise, by director and co-writer (along with Tobias Lindholm) Thomas Vinterberg.

Ostensibly, it concerns four friends – Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe) & Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) – who are all various degrees of middle-aged and are experiencing a litany of rather typical problems between them: they're bored; they're stressed; they feel like they've lost the spark of their youth; & their personal relationships and careers are suffering as a result. They decide to undertake an experiment wherein they maintain a certain level of inebriation in order to see how continual alcohol consumption affects their lives. I won't go into detail as to what comes next, as I believe it is best experienced through watching the film. However, it must be said that the film is not really about alcohol at all. It is simply a film about trying to find joy when it seems like the best of times have been left far behind you.

I first became familiar with Thomas Vinterberg through his tense & brilliant 2012 film The Hunt (Jagten). Another Round may be a very different film, but Vinterberg has once again proven himself to be a enormously skilled filmmaker. He & Lindholm's script is well-crafted and keeps the film moving at an engaging pace. Further, its blend of tragedy and comedy is hugely effective. The cinematography accompanies the film perfectly, with the handheld style allowing for an immersive viewing experience.

The cast is uniformly terrific, but Mads Mikkelsen is spectacular here. This may very well prove to be his finest hour. His delivery is both reserved and vulnerable in equal measure. He is the emotional center of this film, and is more than up to the task. Also, he is a terrific dancer.

Four days into the filming of Another Round, director Thomas Vinterberg's 19 year-old daughter was tragically killed in a car accident. The film was originally intended to be a more light-hearted celebration of the joys of alcohol, but following this horrific event it took on a more nuanced approach to its subject matter. It became less a film about alcohol per say, and rather used the topic to explore more important ideas. Another Round is a film about embracing life, and Vinterberg has spoken about his daughter's influence on this shift in focus. The result is a film that is at times joyous and life-affirming while also highlighting the agonies and difficulties of life. It is always, however, completely moving and engaging, and one of 2020's finest films.

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