Another Round

Another Round ★★★★½

Watched in the cinema (20th visit in 2021)

According to the Norwegian psychologist Finn Skårderud, humans have a blood alcohol level deficit of 0.5 per mille. If you compensate for this, everyone can live better - at least according to this non-scientific thesis. In "Druk", the new film by the celebrated Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, four teacher friends try to get their stagnant everyday lives back on track with the help of beer, wine and spirits, and they actually succeed. History teacher Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), who just a few days ago was the bogeyman of his high school graduating class, gives a rousing and instructive lesson. His friends and colleagues Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe) and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) also quickly find out that a little schnapps helps more than it hurts.

This could actually be a closing point. But anyone familiar with Vinterberg's work knows that he unobtrusively, unadulteratedly and sometimes painfully accurately captures, questions and illuminates the soul life of his characters. This ensures that "Druk" is not a purebred celebration of the popular drug alcohol, but much more the portrait of men in midlife crisis who believe they have the key to a better life. The question that arises, then, is whether the sip of vodka with breakfast really invigorates, or whether it only helps to block out unpleasant things.

It would have been easy to make a drama out of "Druk". Vinterberg decided on a different path and realised a consolidated and yet almost playfully light tragicomedy. Alcohol is not demonised here. With gentle slapstick, moments are presented again and again that show how nice time with fellow human beings can be when a drink or two is involved. Nevertheless, the script by Vinterberg and co-writer Tobias Lindholm also tries to show the darker sides.

This is especially evident in the last third. In my opinion, "Druk" loses some of its momentum and verve here, and one or two dramaturgical decisions seem forced and forced. Nevertheless, there is something true in this development. Alcohol can not only inspire life, but also destroy it. Fortunately, the film avoids obligatory morality in this respect. The raised forefinger, it is needed to hold the beer can.

"Druk", which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2021 as well as for director Thomas Vinterberg, is one of those films that, despite foregoing big, dramatic noise, nevertheless achieves its goal with pinpoint accuracy: it is moving as well as amusing, shows us other perspectives and leaves us with the opportunity to process what we have seen, to question it and to draw conclusions about our own lives. Only great cinema can do that. In addition to the director and script, the ensemble is also responsible for this quality, above all Mads Mikkelsen, who has been successfully commuting between Hollywood and Denmark for many years. Without a doubt, the best scenes in the film belong to him. He doesn't take them by force, but conquers them with his acting finesse, which can definitely be described as nonchalant. It doesn't matter whether he is in tears in a restaurant, teaching his students about history or dancing to What a Life by Scarlet Pleasure.

When you realise that Vinterberg lost his eldest daughter Ida in a car accident three days after filming began and that the film was partly shot at her school, "Druk" takes on yet another meta-emotional level. Whether this was intentional on the director's part is on another bottle of red wine. He transfers his grief into something abstract. Nevertheless, it is palpable. But it never imposes itself. This is also an indicator of great cinema. It will be exciting to see how the planned US remake, in which Leonardo DiCaprio is involved, will deal with the material.

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