Another Round (Druk, 2020)
Dir: Thomas Vinterberg
Who is this about?
Four middle-aged men, teachers at a school in Denmark, devise an unlikely plan to improve their personal and professional lives.
What is their plan?
One of the friends raises the idea that humans are able to function better with a steady low level of alcohol in their blood, 0.05% is suggested as the minimum, so, they decided to ‘test’ this theory out. It’s a typical pub (or bar) conversation, the temporary logic of which don’t usually survive the night once everyone’s fully sober, but having it over a very fancy dinner with expensive drinks (all of which are described beautifully by the waiter) seems to lend it a sense of legitimacy.
Why would they do this?
That is a very good question. Auspiciously they call this a ‘study’, intended to be fun and productive, but if the characters weren’t mature men with responsible jobs and families, I’d just say they’re idiots, as they’re taking risks that are clearly unwise. In some part, it seems to be borne of mid-life crises, an indistinct cry for help, grasping at any idea no matter how stupid, that may help them get out of a perceived rut.
How does it go?
To say the least, they have mixed results. Despite justifying their plan with examples of historical drinkers, of whom there’s even a montage scene, they have to keep this to themselves, knowing it’d be frowned upon. At first, it seems to work out as intended, increasing confidence levels and social interaction, though as they adjust the variables in their ‘experiment’ the results vary.
When do things change?
Halfway through, strangely after a bit of a break, they even more stupidly decide to explore the threshold of the effects of alcohol on their lives. Drinking does lead to a wild mix of situations, with moments of humour, sadness, desperation, frustration, and personally, at times, I was moved to anger. When at one point early on a character twice suggested it might even be safe to drive after drinking, almost encouraging it, I nearly gave up on the film. Thankfully as it doesn’t test that abhorrent idea I stuck with it. I wish the end was a little clearer in settling on what they’ve learnt, or not, from this experience. What they at times advocate is reckless and dangerous, and should be presented irrefutably clearly as such.
Where can I watch this and should I?
It’s available on VOD and maybe also streaming on Hulu in the States. It’s frustrating at times, the decisions made are questionable at least, often reckless with not just their own lives but also others. However, the acting is superb and the film is ultimately enthralling with some enjoyable moments that may outweigh the offputting moral qualms.
Nominated for four BAFTAs in Directing, Lead Actor, Original Screenplay, and the one it seems likely to win, Film not in the English Language. To say it’s the frontrunner in that race at the Academy Awards is an understatement, bolstered by the fact that Vinterberg also got a directing nomination.