Another Round ★★★

Having read other friends' positive reviews, it seems I'm an outlier on this one. But I was frankly disappointed in this, given the director and cast. It's not by any means a bad film. Although it's ostensibly about drinking and its benefits and costs, the underlying theme is midlife angst, especially for men, and the balance between stability and excitement. I just think that theme has been done much better in many other films. Also, the construct around drinking to convey this was a bit forced and artificial.

That being said, I thought Mads Mikkelson turns in an amazing performance as Martin, a depressed high school history teacher who's lost his life energy and how this has affected his connection with students and with his wife and children. His cadre of 3 male teaching associates and he devise an experiment based on an odd quasi-scientific theory about which level of blood alcohol content or BAC is necessary for a healthy vibrant man. They agree to drink steadily throughout the day (yes, they are teachers!) and see how it affects their lives. There are first positive and then decidedly mixed results.

There are some astute observations about the Danish culture's ambivalent relationship with alcohol, some good camerawork by Sturlah Brandth Garvien, and an interesting musical score that mixes contemporary and classical music. But the overall result is not especially engaging or satisfying. I kept waiting for something more over the course of the film but it never came.

I suppose my review is also influenced by my work as a psychotherapist, especially with clients who use alcohol and recreational drugs. I'm by no means an absolute advocate for abstinence; I often use what is called a "harm reduction" approach. But the premise of the film and the scientific experiment seemed so far fetched that it surprised me how four educators could find it credible. Sure, alcohol can reduce inhibitions and help one access joy and playfulness. But it's ultimately an artificial and temporary "high", and is not sustainable as a way to revive one's life. Vintenberg appeared to be making this point by the end, but it was a very mixed message.

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