Another Round

Another Round ★★★★½

As a teacher, I had to seriously suspend disbelief for some scenes in this film. Luckily, Another Round was so well-made, and so well-acted, that my incredulity at certain moments was overwhelmed by the emotional resonance of the film’s overall themes.

Mads Mickelson is just amazing as a man whose life has almost completely stagnated: his joy, his confidence, and his creativity seem smothered under a pea green weather-beaten tarp. He’s overwhelmed, he’s passive, and he can’t get out from under it. It’s affecting his relationships with his wife, his sons, and his students. 

His crisis sets the stage for a scenario that, while unrealistic, has the ring of emotional truth. One of his friends finds a theory that humans in their natural state are .005% below what they should be in blood alcohol level. The group decides to perform an experiment: drink enough to maintain that level throughout the day, to see if it improves their creativity and overall quality of life.

Predictably, the experiment eventually goes off the rails, but the concept serves as a vehicle for an exploration of friendship, aging, love, and trying to feel alive and passionate in a world that can sometimes sap us of those feelings.

Thomas Vinterberg does a fantastic job of using close-ups to accentuate character emotions ranging from anxiety and dejection to jubilation and relief. In telling a story with such wild swings of emotion and complex relationship machinations, it seems nearly impossible to keep control of tone. Vinterberg does it, though, moving his camera in concert with the tenor of each scene.  There’s one especially harrowing moment where he makes us feel like we’re in the room, jaws on the floor, captive and forced to witness a scene of such discomfort and sadness. At the end of the film, though, Vinterberg provides catharthis and joy in what is quickly becoming a classic final scene.

A wholly unique and surprisingly moving film.

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