Another Round: Movie Review

Another Round (the original Danish title is: Druk) is a 2020 Danish film directed by Thomas Vinterberg and starring Mads Mikkelsen. Druk in Danish means something like binge drinking, and the fact that there is a special word in the vocabulary of that language already says a lot about the local culture of alcohol.

Vinterberg envisioned this film as a comedy at the insistence of his daughter Ida. The fact that this film is dedicated to her, however, is due to her untimely death in a car accident that took place five days after filming began. And perhaps this is the reason behind the tone of the film which is partly comedy and partly drama. In one word, it’s realistic.

The plot is as follows. Four professors from a Danish high school (Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang and Lars Ranthe) decide to test psychiatrist Finn Skårderud’s theory that we humans should make up for a constant blood alcohol deficit by drinking more or less constantly. Isn’t it true that Hemingway, Roosevelt and Churchill were notorious drinkers? What harm could it do to drink a little, especially if only to scientifically test a theory?

The interesting thing about this film is that it doesn’t indulge in an easy condemnation of alcohol consumption at all costs as any Hollywood film would have done (think of Flight, 2012, and its horrifically rhetorical finale). Being the phenomenon much more complex and multifaceted than that, the film decides to treat it accordingly and the result is magnificent.

Mikkelsen’s character is particularly well written. Married with two children, he hasn’t been happy for a long time and drinking a bit brings him back some happiness and lightheartedness he seemed to have lost. This also makes him open his eyes to his family situation with quite dramatic implications, as he distances himself from his wife and children. The ending is optimistic, though, he literally dives into the future, joining his students’ celebrations for the end of the school year.

The stories of the three co-stars are also noteworthy, each with its own character development, each presenting a different family picture. One of them is lonely and prone to depression, another one has a family that feels like a straight jacket, and the last one regrets not having children of his own, but at the end he understands his importance in the eyes of the dozens and dozens of students with whom he works every year at school. In fact, no one ever forgets his or her high school professors, right? I’m sure I’m not the only one who could list them one by one without any effort, and this means that they certainly influenced my life…

So, the film tells four different and inevitably intertwined stories making us the audience laugh, think, and cry. Mikkelsen absolutely shines in a role which also allows him to demonstrate that he hasn’t forgotten his past life as a gymnast and dancer, and at 54 years old his physique is impressive.

The soundtrack deserves a special mention, it’s really effective: What a Life by Scarlet Pleasure will stay in your head for days, but also the jazz songs played during the drinking sessions of our protagonists are remarkable. And the actors are truly exceptional, it seems almost impossible that they didn’t drink any alcohol when shooting the movie!

I loved Another Round. It saddened me a little to see how young teenagers drink so much alcohol, possibly because I’m raising a child with organic vegetables and healthy walks in the parks and I know that at some point he will try to self-destruct due to the social pressure promoting alcohol everywhere, at least in our European societies (but, apparently, even more so in the Danish one). Ciao!

PS: I recognized Churchill and Hitler in the mock elections of the history class led by the intoxicated Mikkelsen!

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