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Thomas Vinterberg Another Round Review


Another Round | Review

Another Round | Review

The Libation Bearers: Vinterberg Explores a Collective Mid-life Crisis in Boozy Black Comedy

Thomas Vinterberg Another Round ReviewThomas Vinterberg returns to his favored motifs, experimental behavioral portraits of Danish microcosms in Another Round, which also reunites him with Mads Mikkelsen, the star of his grueling 2012 hit The Hunt. Curiously, educators are the representative milieu once again in an exploration of a group of male cohorts who decide to assuage their mid-life ennui through inspiration from an obscure philosopher who hypothesized humans were their best selves with a blood alcohol content of .05. The recipe for disaster shakes up their daily lives with an excitement long absent, resulting in both tragedy and necessary catharsis. A bluntly realized dramatization which drills down in the necessity of communication made easier through lowered inhibitions, a novel idea unspools in predictable fashion.

Once a student favorite as a high-school history professor, Martin (Mikkelsen) has settled into an endless stagnation. Witness to the passing revelries of the vibrant constantly fluctuating student body around him, the teetotaler also wallows in his stale marriage to Trine (Maria Bonnevie), mother of his two children. Feeling invisible to his wife and kids also feeds into his ambivalence to his current students, who along with their parents stage an intervention voicing their concerns about being unprepared for upcoming placement tests thanks to his carelessness in teaching them. But when colleague Niklolaj (Magnus Millang) mentions a hypothesis from a forgotten philosopher who suggested mankind could more easily tap into heightened potential through keeping a blood alcohol level at a constant level, Martin begins to see parallels with notable historical icons such as Hemingway and Churchill. Along with two other long-time friends and teachers, they embark on a secretive drinking experiment, recording results both negative and positive on lives and work.

Although it plays with similar taboo scenarios regarding minors, though with less sensational parameters than the specter of pedophilia and the ensuing witch hunt of their previous collaboration, Vinterberg’s latest is the echo of the finer vintage of his early days. The intensity of The Celebration (1998), for instance, is never broached despite the ensemble qualities and instead speaks to the dangerous platitudes and banalities which life easily segues into for working class adults losing sight of the passions which initially brought them joy both personally and professionally.

An examination of masculine tendencies and perspectives, Another Round is more a formulation of male friendship and the joys of secret camaraderie than anything else. Almost by necessity, one character is irreparably ruined by the experiment, for instance, while Mikkelsen as our main protagonist finds a semblance of salvation made only possible by his surviving the consequences of his negligent actions. Vinterberg and his usual co-writer Tobias Lindholm only really find a unique way to broach the subject of rediscovering the importance of one’s achievements through the potential obliteration of then.

Opening with a quote from Kierkegaard, the philosophical giant referenced several times throughout various exchanges, love is merely a construct of youthful fantasy, itself a passing period in which one’s initial dalliances with life’s potential are forever measured against as an adult whose life hurtles farther from such post markers with each passing hour, day and year. And if Another Round posits any real wisdom, it’s in the spirit of divorcing oneself from the potentially naive passions of youth to redefine meaning inherent in each of life’s passing seasons.

Mikkelsen is routinely compelling as Martin, while the lives of his friends are presented as passing details. Noted Danish actress Maria Bonnevie, like the other brief glimpses of women in relation to these men, has much less to do, though her emotional absence from Martin is itself a telling presence, and when their eventual blow-out transpires, her reactions are merely justification for his foolish actions—someone, in some capacity needed to make a grand statement in this relationship and Another Round plays into the land of the cop out by, of course, using his foray into alcoholic escapism the reason it was made possible, if not in the most helpful way.

Lindholm’s script manages to make the first two acts rather jubilant and convivial, filled with little bon mots for his bored teachers. “Russia was built by people who drink vodka and drive,” is one of several justifications for their harebrained foray into irresponsibility. But eventually, Another Round has to get sober, and it fittingly presents a mixture of ruination and reinvention for its ensemble who dared to retreat into debauchery masquerading as a scientifically minded personal experimentation.

Reviewed virtually on September 17th at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. Special Presentations – 116 Mins


Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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