Four Danish high school teachers Nikolaj, Tommy, Peter and Martin are all in the midst of a midlife crisis, their careers are going nowhere, relationships are stuck in a rut and there’s a general feeling of malaise. Whilst out celebrating his 40th birthday, Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) brings up the theory that man’s blood alcohol content is too low and by increasing it a bit we would lead more productive and fulfilled lives. Intrigued, and eager to change their boring lives and uninterested students, they agree to give it a go – in the name of science of course…
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round – or Druk in its native language – is an absorbing drama with a rich vein of comedy running through it. It has an easy going, naturalistic tone and strikes the right balance between the highs and the lows. It shows the initial giddy highs of their experiment – the flourishing relationships, the riotous nights out and the engaged students, especially in Martin’s (Mad Mikkelsen) booze soaked history class. Spurred on by the good times they take things too far, what follows are the inevitable hangovers from hell, fractured relationships, arguments, worried words from family and accusatory words at work.
It is a nuanced film that serves up heartbreak and hilarity in equal measure, with an undimmed sense of hope running through. It does not veer into goofy humour, mawkish sentimentality or matronly finger wagging as this film could so easily have done, especially in American hands with one eye on box office returns. It has some cracking performances, the centre of which is Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Rogue One) – an enigmatic presence as the invigorated, and at times beset by turmoil, teacher Martin.
Do not let the subtitles put you off, Another Round is a cracking drama which mixes the serious and the light hearted with aplomb. It turns its gaze successfully on midlife crises and our relationship with booze, and puts me in mind of a particular quote from Homer Simpson.