Another Round (Druk) reunites dogme director Thomas Vinterberg (Festen) and his brooding star Mads Mikkelson to earn a 2021 Oscar for Best Film in a Foreign Language.
Out of Itby Alexa Dalby
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Once again in a Vinterburg film, Mikkelson plays a teacher. But unlike in the dark drama The Hunt, where he was an accused abuser, here he’s a morose teacher in a mid-life crisis (and an unfortunate unironed plaid shirt).
At a 40th birthday gourmet celebration dinner, four middle-aged teacher colleagues convince themselves of a theory by Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud that everyone is born with a blood alcohol level that is 0.05% too low. So the quartet set out to test this theory and rectify this supposed deficit with medicinal doses of alcohol throughout the day. They treat it like a scientific experiment, measuring and recording their levels as if they’re writing a research paper.
At first the change is beneficial. Martin (Mikkelson) regains his teaching mojo, inspiring his history classes with praise of Winston Churchill’s heroic, war-winning alcohol intake. It potentially revives his flagging relationship with his hard-working nurse wife Trine (Maria Bonnevie).
His three friends too – sports teacher Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), maths teacher Peter (Lars Ranthe) and the 40-year-old psychology teacher Nikolaj (Magnus Millang), the birthday boy – initially gain in confidence and daring at work and at home. Though as the experiment takes hold, there’s a shocking scene where one teacher encourages a student to drink to overcome his nerves before a viva exam. However, apart from that, so far so good.
But then, flushed with success, the four get overconfident and decide to investigate what happens when they increase their blood alcohol percentage from this faux-medicinal level. Surely the higher the better, they convince themselves. After an all-day, all-night alcohol binge, their careers and marriages start to fall apart: finally tragedy overtakes one of them.
The film is naturalistically shot and there’s plenty of quiet humour at first, but the darkness cannot help but break through. Slender glasses of vintage wine become a vodka bottle hidden in a paper bag. What started as a comedy becomes a tragicomedy that goes to some very bleak places.
Denmark’s unacknowledged drinking culture is the film’s provocative target. From the start it shows how ingrained it is – albeit presented in a student ritual as youthful joy and exuberance – with the dangerous, drunken graduation game that’s a tradition for school students. A Swedish character comments, “Everyone in this country drinks too much.”
Another Round expands on this contradiction that Denmark, the country that tops the charts as the happiest in the world, is reliant on alcohol intake to oil its social wheels. Martin’s improvised free-form jazz dance in front of his students is a high point that has won many critical plaudits. But it looks like a desperate, drunken dance and, by implication, alcoholism is the same risk and threat in any highly developed country. Is Another Round a cautionary tale? Maybe.
Another Round premiered at the virtual Cannes Film Festival 2020 and screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2020, where it won the Audience Award. ANOTHER ROUND has received four BAFTA nominations for: Film Not in the English Language, Director, Original Screenplay, and Leading Actor for Mads Mikkelsen, two Oscar nominations for Directing and for International Feature Film and was also Golden Globe nominated. It was also the Surprise Film at this year’s Dublin International Film Festival, won the publicly-voted Virtual Audience Award at the BFI London Film Festival and won four awards at the European Film Awards including Best Film. Another Round won the Oscar for Best Film in a Foreign Language in the 93rd Academy Awards on 25 April 2021. It is released in cinemas in the UK on 25 June 2021 and on Mubi.
WINNER – Film not in the English Language – BAFTA 2021
NOMINATED – Best International Feature Film & Best achievement in Direction – The Academy Awards 2021
WINNER – Audience Award – The BFI London Film Festival 2020
WINNER – Film, Director, Screenwriter & Actor – The European Film Awards 2020