Vincent Cook’s review published on Letterboxd:
I have been quite busy lately with almost no time for new movies, but I managed to convince my wife to watch ‘Another Round’ with me on the 25th of January. Easily one of the best films 2020 had to offer. Will definitely be difficult to dethrone from my top ten as I work through my 2020 watchlist.
My only previous experience with a Thomas Vinterberg film (the writer and director) was his 2012 film ‘The Hunt’. ‘The Hunt’ is a devastating drama that explores a very real and grounded look at a town that conducts a “witch hunt” and ostracizes a man whom they believe has done something horrible only because a child started a lie out of spite. It’s a remarkable film. In all honesty, it’s one of the best foreign language films I’ve ever seen.
Obviously, most people are quite familiar with Mads Mikkelsen at this point (he also portrayed the protagonist in the only other film I’ve seen of Vinterberg’s, ‘The Hunt’), and I think he’s still an incredibly underrated talent. I just rewatched / completed the criminally underrated 2013-2015 TV series that starred Mikkelsen as the eponymous character, ‘Hannibal’. It’s quite a shock to the system to see him portray such radically different characters in a very short period of time.
Mads Mikkelsen and Thomas Vinterberg are both so talented in what they do and accomplish with this film. The film examines four teachers, each teaches a different subject at a secondary school in Copenhagen, who have lost their love and passion for teaching and for life in general. They’re all 40-50 years old, and they have just lost sight of how to enjoy life and exude passion in what they do. They decide to attempt an experiment based off the theory of a famous psychiatrist: human beings were born with a deficit of blood alcohol content. Essentially, humans at a BAC of .05% are more relaxed, more creative, and have more fun. They decide to maintain that level during the day at all times.
The premise definitely will set off red flags for people who have a personal experience or know someone affected by alcoholism. The crazy thing is: this film never takes a side. It shows you the positives and negatives (including the extremes in both directions) of alcohol. The film never makes a statement or argument for or against the use of alcohol. You are just presented with these men who all have different experiences with their use of alcohol, and then how this experiment affects their lives (positively and negatively) and their outlook on life. The point of this film is not the alcohol. Alcohol is simply used as a driving point for the plot for these characters to finally appreciate life! It’s pretty amazing how they pull it off.
I personally think it would be a shame for Mikkelsen to not at least be nominated for Best Actor. The Academy does on occasion recognize performances from films outside of the United States. And, after last year, I actually now have some faith in The Academy with their own recognition of ‘Parasite’. Leaving me hope for the future for films not shot in the English language.
The camerawork and lighting also deserve praise. The film is often presented, shot, edited, framed in a way that makes you feel like you’re drinking with them. These elements are adjusted based on how much the teachers have been drinking, and what kind of moment is being portrayed on screen. The writing, directing, dialogue, and music are also all terrific. The commentary on life, use of alcohol, youth, old age, feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, marriage, influence and impact on others as well as simply finding passion and joy in what you do in your life are all incredibly impactful. I can’t recommend this film enough.