Another Round

Another Round ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Science Fiction at it's core straight up asks, "wouldn't it be fucked up if_______happened" and then applies that to a bunch of characters. It introduces a concept that amplifies human flaws, reveals character and builds drama! Now please indulge me as I try to look at the dark comedy Druk (Another Round) through a sci-fi lens and how it subverts that very lens.

Norwegian psychiatrist, Finn Skårderud was said to have posited that humans are born with a blood alcohol level that is 0.05 percent too low. He now denies having been the thinktank behind this hypothesis; alleging that he was misquoted in a different context. Nevertheless Druk puts this to the test, thereby it qualifies as sci-fi! Something about characters testing whether creative cognition can significantly improve with the buzz of alcohol just tickles my sci-fi bone!

Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) is a historian, Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) is a psychologist, Tommy (Tommy Bo Larson) is a PE instructor, Peter (Lars Ranthe) is choirmaster. Together, these four middle-aged teachers decide to start maintaining their blood alcohol level at 0.05% during the day as part of the study. But eventually, the more alcohol they consume, the more it unsurprisingly spills over into their personal and professional lives. They throw themselves wholeheartedly into this unfounded hypothesis. Martin even uses Ernest Hemingway and Winston Churchill to justify the debauchery, but keep in mind he's saying all this while under the influence himself.

Tommy is probably the least viable candidate since alcohol and gym work don't go hand-in-hand. He is proof that these four men were just using this experiment as an excuse to break away from their mundane lives - no different from a Fight Club. Tommy dies and the film leaves the cause of death to our own imagination. The experiment that was bound to fail failed. There was no secret "sweet spot" that makes you some razor-sharp genius!

The truth is, these men were always great lecturers - they just got lost in their mid life crises and became shadows of themselves. There's an understated contrast between the chemistry of the four friends and the antics of their vibrant students - the teachers are using alcohol to relive their youth. The film asks interesting questions: Why would one need inebriation in order to loosen their inhibitions? Should we look to alcohol to unlock sudden confidence? Filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg doesn't quite make a clear moral stance on the subject. He just leaves us to ponder on our relationship with alcohol, and the film is all the better for it.

I'm always fascinated by how "liberal" the drinking culture is in Denmark. To outsiders, seeing drunk kids run around a lake and empty a bottle of beer would be a huge red flag! But Vinterberg focuses on the specificities of this Danish culture, that outsiders can latch on to universally - it's a proven fact that if you take care of the specificities in your story, the generalities will reveal themselves.

Druk is neither a celebration of drinking culture like Project X, nor a condemnation of it like Leaving Las Vegas. It's a movie about the untamed urge to be alive again! The final scene embodies this so well - Mads character lets go of control; daring to fly and fail! Also chef's kiss to that freeze frame!

Vinterberg has always comfortably tiptoed around taboo subjects such as child abuse. Maybe that's why his movies keep me alert and puts me on my toes every time! Here he's dabbling in alcohol consumption - a genetic and social ill. Too provocative for people who suffer from alcohol addiction. I can only imagine how transgressive a film we would have got had Vinterberg made this in his Dogme95 days.

P.S Academics like Elliott Bird have found no truth to this 0.05% level. It is possible to be born with alcohol content if the mother was drinking at the point of delivery or during labour. Your body could probably produce alcohol if you ate a decomposing apple that ferments in your stomach. Whoever pushed this hypothesis probably used animal data - most likely artic creatures that produce alcohol to de-ice. These animals have a different physiology and don't even use oxygen the same way we do.

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