TIFF 2020: Another Round Review

Pure Danish perfection

Raise a glass to Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round, a true highlight of TIFF 2020.

Stuck in a rut, four middle-aged friends and high school teachers decide to test a theory by Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud—that their professional and social lives would greatly improve if they achieved a constant blood alcohol level of 0.05%.

Reuniting several cast members from his brilliant 2012 feature The Hunt, Vinterberg casts Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, and Magnus Millang as the drinking buddies who begin to push the limits of their alcohol consumption. Rising above even the Skårderud-recommended levels, the group pushes their limits to the test, walking a fine line between success and failure in their day-to-day lives.

Like much of Vinterberg’s filmography, his latest is a sumptuous feast for the senses. Cloaked in warm colours and stylish Danish design, Another Round is as inviting as a glass of whiskey. A truly original story, Vinterberg’s screenplay with The Hunt co-writer Tobias Lindholm brings laughs through whispered conversations and breathalyzer tests and bottles of booze squirrelled away in school locker rooms.

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The casting is pure Danish perfection with each character note-perfect. The disinterested history teacher Martin (Mikkelsen) with a strained marriage, the divorced soccer coach Tommy (Larson), philosophy teacher and harried father of three (Ranthe), and the committed bachelor music teacher (Millang).

It’s not always easy to play drunk on screen and here, without ever dipping into caricature, each actor reaches their peak inebriated state. Another Round is fundamentally an ensemble piece, but a radiant Mikkelsen and Larsen are such a mesmerizing duo, it’s hard to take your eyes off of them. The real treat for audiences comes through the groups gentle ribbing of Martin’s past as a dancer. So it’s a delightful surprise when Mikkelsen, a real-life former dancer and gymnast, finally gets to show off his fancy footwork and exuberant, nimble moves at one point later on.

When the third act does reach a more sobering point, it never dips into moralizing or chastising those who choose to imbibe. The film is ultimately not a commentary on intoxication, but a celebration of life and friendship, something we can all raise a glass and give a hearty Danish “skål” to.

Another Round screens at Lightbox on Sept. 19 and will be released in theatres later this year.

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