Apr 2, 2021 | LIFE | By Andrew Rodden | Illustration by Xixi Qin
Let’s face it: 2020 was a lost year for movies. Most studios went back and forth on whether to sacrifice potential profits by dropping a movie on streaming, or to just wait for theaters to open at the end of the pandemic.
Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg’s “Another Round” is an example of a movie caught in that liminal space. The Danish film was poised to premiere at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, but after the festival’s cancellation, it had to wait for the Toronto International Film Festival to screen. For this year’s Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Best International Feature, and also garnered Vinterberg a Best Director nod.
After a lengthy hiatus, 2020 movies have been trickling more and more onto streaming platforms, but once upon a time, attempting to widely release a movie onto streaming services was a death sentence, dooming the profits of a big movie for production companies. All of a sudden, it’s become the norm.
Mads Mikkelsen plays a depressed high school teacher, Martin, whose marriage and teaching job have become repetitive and lifeless. Upon asking his wife (Maria Bonnevie) “Am I boring?”, she responds by saying he’s … different than when they first met.
This renders Martin desperate to spice up his life, and after confessing this to his four friends at a birthday dinner, they decide that the ticket to a fulfilling life is booze. More specifically, to follow the theory of Finn Skårderud, who believes the human being is born with a blood alcohol content of 0.05% too low. So, the four friends agree to stay at that level of intoxication every day until 8:00 p.m.
At the beginning of their (at first) casual experiment, they notice they’re able to teach with more confidence, coach with more swag, believing the drinks they’re sneaking in between passing periods are pumping new energy into their lives. They up the consistent BAC to 0.08%, then to 0.10%, then, well, after this point they lose control, slipping into a destructive alcoholism.
“Another Round” demonstrates the highs and the lows of consuming Winston Churchill levels of booze, outrageous amounts that are too much even for the alcohol-friendly culture of Denmark.
The four friends parade around Copenhagen, dance, and have the time of their lives. They appear more confident, able to fill a room with only good vibes, but the resulting mess is ugly, and each of the men makes irreversible mistakes simply because they’ve been drunk for days on end. Maybe the issue with their dreary lives wasn’t their sobriety, but something more fundamental to their cores.
While a lot of “Another Round” is a candid display of the horrid repercussions of binge drinking, the movie also honestly demonstrates a group of guys having the time of their lives. Vinterberg utilizes a naturalistic style, giving the audience plenty of room to interpret the characters’ actions and words however they see fit. The camerawork is similarly subtle, but a crucial aide to the storytelling; Vinterberg ditches the tripod and maintains a shallow focus whenever the characters are drunk.
“Another Round” is a movie about rejuvenating oneself, finding a new chapter, turning a new leaf, and making sure you’re living the best life you can live. It’s also my favorite movie of 2020, fit with the bells and whistles of triumph and catastrophe. Among a lineup of sleepy 2020 releases, “Another Round” is a must-watch.
“Another Round” is streaming on Hulu.