Another Round

Another Round ★★★★★

When the Oscar nominees came out about a week prior, I was shocked to see Thomas Vinterberg’s name amongst the other directors in the Best Director Category. The Oscars tend to recognize an International directorial effort every once in a while and they are always a unique film experience deserving of the award. So when Vinterberg got in over the much-predicted Aaron Sorkin; Another Round shot to the top of my watchlist. What I got was yes, an expertly directed film, but I also got an enthralling and shockingly funny dramedy made all the better by the heartbreaking story surrounding the filming.
As the credits rolled for Another Round, the words “For Ida” crossed the screen. Interested, I immediately flocked to the IMDB page to view the trivia on this film, and what I saw changed the entire perception of what I just watched. Another Round is based on a play that Vinterberg wrote in which inspiration came from his daughter Ida, who had told him stories about Danish youth drinking culture. The film was originally supposed to be "A celebration of alcohol, based on the thesis that world history would have been different without alcohol." Ida was even supposed to be in the film as Mads Mikkelsen’s daughter. Tragically Ida was killed in a car accident 4 days into filming and in his grief, Vinterberg changed the film to something a bit more humanistic and life-affirming. Vinterberg said "It should not just be about drinking. It was about being awakened to life," An unspeakable tragedy has transformed Another Round into something way more than just a film about drinking culture in Denmark.
The film follows a group of 4 High School teachers who conduct a peculiar social experiment based on the work of Finn Skårderud, who theorizes that humans naturally have a blood alcohol level that is about 0.05% too low. The teachers test the hypothesis by keeping up their blood alcohol levels to some enthrallingly juxtaposing results.
That is what makes Another Round so fascinating. We’ve gotten tons of films that glorify drinking here in the United States. I remember when the 2012 film Project X came out and there was a period of about 5 months where teenagers tried to recreate the alcohol-fueled debauchery of that film. Where this film takes it time to explore the debauchery of consistently drinking alcohol all the time, the film also juxtaposes that nirvana with the real-world consequences of alcoholism. One night the men are drinking and having a merry ol’ time, the next they are fighting with their spouses and coworkers. Despite this juxtaposition, the film isn’t afraid to explore that central theme that Vinterberg stated, The film tackles the complex nature of a midlife crisis and being able to find the spark of your youth again, and what kind of destructive price could come from that.
The film is intricately layered in that regard. Blending drama and comedy flawlessly. Yet the performances and camerawork are what make Another Round stand out from other Oscar Nominated films. Mads Mikkelsen is at the top of his game here and even gets to flex his skills as a dancer in arguably one of the most captivating final scenes in recent memory.
I loved this film, and to know the backstory behind that final screen and the improvisational pivot Vinterberg took as a director and writer to make that happen makes this an even more impressive cinematic experience.