Movies

Review: Another Round

The Danish film is getting some well-deserved Oscar buzz.

|

This is a drowsy week for new movies (there's a Bruce Willis space-action film called Cosmic Sin opening, but you should forget about it immediately). And since the Oscars are coming up on April 25, now might be a good time to look back over last year's movies (which this year include everything released through February 28) and maybe catch up with some worthy pictures you might have missed. For a lot of people, that could include Danish director Thomas Vinterberg's Another Round, a tribute to the melancholy charisma of Mads Mikkelsen, which is on the Academy shortlist for Best International Feature.

It's hard to imagine this movie being made in precisely the same way in this country, and not just because it opens with a Kierkegaard quote. Its subject is binge drinking, a lot of which we see being done by teenagers, often with the chuckling approval of their elders, who look back fondly on their own drunken teen years. (The drinking age in Denmark is 16.) No moral stance is taken; we see the damage—but we see the fun, too.

The story centers on four middle-aged friends: Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), Nikolaj (Magnus Millang), Peter (Lars Ranthe), and Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen). They're all teachers at a Copenhagen high school, and we first see them in action at a 40th birthday party for Nikolaj, where they start out with beer, then move on to champagne, then vintage Burgundy, and then whatever's wet and within reach. They seem to be having fun, but there's a cloud of faded dreams hanging over them. Martin, once headed for a PhD and a big research grant, got derailed by marriage and kids. Now, he says, "I don't do much. I don't see many people. I don't know how I ended up like this."

So okay, male menopause. But then these four friends discover the theories of a Norwegian academic named Finn Skårderud (a real person, and a consultant on the film). Skårderud, we're told, believes that the human body has an alcohol deficit—that people should drink more (about five percent more) in order to boost their blood alcohol level. Martin and his friends like the sound of this, and soon they're starting their days off with a hit of booze, followed by booster swigs throughout the day, carefully monitored by little breathalyzer gadgets they've all acquired.

The change in their lives is swift. Where Martin was once listless and uninspired, he now vibrates with energy. He's funny and playful (he's not full-on drunk, he's just loose), and his students—who previously found him incredibly boring—are captivated. His fellow day drinkers are having similar experiences. "I haven't been teaching this well in ages," says Tommy. And Peter has become something of an evangelist: When one of his students has a bout of nerves before a test, Peter suggests he have a drink (and provides one). Meanwhile, Martin's drinking also gooses his sleepy marriage back to life, much to the delighted surprise of his wife, Anika (Maria Bonnevie). "I've missed us," she says, after an unexpected carnal interlude during a canoeing trip.

We know that things can't go on this way, and they don't. The big drinking experiment comes to an end, with significant collateral damage. Martin realizes he has wrecked his life and wonders if he can ever patch it back up. A Kierkegaard scholar says, "You must accept yourself as fallible in order to love others, and life." In a memorable scene we see Martin out in the street, amid passing trucks filled with celebrating students—a new generation of doomed revelers. Very Scandinavian. But Martin is dancing.

NEXT: History of Swear Words

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I guess I’d have to see it to understand how this guy “wrecked his life” when all the description of it is of improvement. Could the problem only have been that he stopped drinking?

    1. Change Your Life Right Now! Work From Comfort Of Your Home And Receive Your FirstFREW Paycheck Within A Week. No Experience Needed, No Boss Over Your Shoulder… Say Goodbye To Your Old Job! Limited Number Of Spots Open… Find out how HERE……. Visit Here

      1. I have received $17634 last month from home by working online in my part time. I am a full time student and doing this easy home based work for 3 to 4 hrs a day. ghu.This job is very simple to do and its regular earnings are much better than any other office type work.
        See detail here…………Money90

        1. [ PART TIME JOB FOR USA ] Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much KUIJ better than regular office job and even MNJH a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
          on this page…..READ MORE

    2. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

      1. I am making 70 to 60 dollar par hour at home on laptop ,, This is make happy But now i am Working 4 hour Dailly and make 400 dollar Easily .. CMs This is enough for me to happy my family..how ?? i am making this so u can do it Easily….

        Click this link,…… Home Profit System

    3. [ PART TIME JOB FOR USA ] Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple works from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simpleFREW job to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page…. Visit Here

    4. Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple works from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its NBHNW earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page…. Visit Here

    5. I am making a good salary from home $1200-$2500/week , which is amazing, under a year back I was jobless in a horrible ADt econohahsmy. I thank God oy every day I was blessed with these instructions and now it’s my duty to and pay it forward and share it with And Everyone, Here For MORE INFO PLEASE Just check this SITE….. READ MORE

  2. I’m going to have to look up Skarderud. Has he discovered alcohol is an essential nutrient?

    1. I am making a good salary from home $1200-$2500/week , which is amazing, under a year back I was jobless in a horrible ADt economy. I thank God oyfdfdf everyfdfd day I was blessed with these instructions and now it’s my duty to and pay it forward and share it with And Everyone, Here For MORE INFO PLEASE Just check this SITE….. READ MORE

  3. Oh, wait — “story”? So this is not a documentary? In that case it could be manipulated any way the writer wants, as in Andy Breckman’s “Railroad Bill”.

  4. So okay, male menopause.

    That’s decidedly un-feminist of the author. Here come MEN barging into women’s sports, crushing records, stealing menopause.

  5. Drunken Danes? Say it isn’t so!

    HAMLET
    The king doth wake to-night and takes his rouse,
    Keeps wassail, and the swaggering up-spring reels;
    And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,
    The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out
    The triumph of his pledge.

    HORATIO
    Is it a custom?

    HAMLET
    Ay, marry, is’t:
    But to my mind, though I am native here
    And to the manner born, it is a custom
    More honour’d in the breach than the observance.
    This heavy-headed revel east and west
    Makes us traduced and tax’d of other nations:
    They clepe us drunkards, and with swinish phrase
    Soil our addition; and indeed it takes
    From our achievements, though perform’d at height,
    The pith and marrow of our attribute.

    Hamlet, Act I, Scene 1

    https://genius.com/William-shakespeare-hamlet-act-1-scene-4-annotated

    1. Oops, Scene 4

  6. Sure, I’m always up for a Danish m…Mads! I’ll see anything with Mads Mikkelsen

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.