There are a lot of moments that I really like, but there is one scene that really hits and brings out the whole essence and meaning of this film. This scene is at the very beginning, when Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) asks his wife, Anika (Maria Bonnevie), "Have I become boring?" A question sooner or later. A question that may come as we get older, or also often arise since the COVID-19 pandemic, when we realize to ourselves and ask whether our lives have become flat and boring?
Martin is a boring history teacher. His students paid little attention to his studies and neither did his family, especially his wife who always worked the night hours. Not only him, but his three friends who are also teachers at the same school feel the same boredom, and they are: Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe) and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang). The four of them don't seem too passionate about teaching their lessons, and their personal lives are also unattractive.
While celebrating Nikolaj's birthday one night, they finally decided to experiment from the theory of a psychiatrist named Skårderud which states that humans have alcohol levels 0.5% lower than they should. Sticking to that theory, they finally devised a plan to always drink alcohol so that the alcohol level in the blood was always at 0.5% and did not drink above 8 in the evening. To test that theory, of course.
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But that theory is just an excuse. The four of them realize that the theory is just an excuse to justify the plan they have carried out. This is one of the foundations of Another Round , a study of humans and how they will seek to find catharsis in the midst of their dragging life. There may be a small part of them that realizes that alcohol is just an escape from the less sweet realities of their life, but once they touch the freedom that alcohol offers, that part of them closes off instantly.
And the alcohol works. At least to work for their lives, not to test their theories. Martin has become more passionate about teaching and has found a way to get the attention of his students, something that may not have happened before. He has also become more active in encouraging his family to do activities, such as going canoeing and camping. Likewise with his three friends, who seemed to be more passionate about teaching. If this works, then alcohol isn't that bad, right? What if the consumption level is increased? To test the theory, of course.
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Of course this is the alcohol we are talking about, and alcohol can change a human being in the snap of a finger. With alcohol at the center of attention in this film, Thomas Vinterberg has created a story that sits on the border between conscious and out of control, and that border has always made this film truly thrilling. Because we love the characters. We encourage Martin and his friends to find new ways to enjoy life. But we also have feelings of worry and fear that alcohol will swallow them whole.
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I really like the story of Another Round . I love how this can become a film about friendship, about four adults and close friends who decide to do something new. I love how this can be a character study, to see a person's complaining and resistance in facing "adulthood" because as we and he realize, adults are boring. Or also as a story about redemption, to learn from experience what is really wrong and what should be done. For two hours, we can get a lot of meaning from the story, which also makes this film quite valuable.
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This is not an outspoken comedy, but there are some moments that are hilarious and make me laugh. There are also moments where this film is also very cute, which makes me smile when watching it. And there is also a heartbreaking and striking part, which is quite touching. And that's why this is a truly human film, because humans do have a series of complex and varied emotions, and that's why the story of Another Round really hits and feels personal, even though we haven't felt what the characters in this film feel.
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Mads Mikkelsen is one of the biggest reasons why I fully support her character. He has really impressive charisma, can take over the audience completely but also can do what he does naturally and make his character feel like someone we've known for a long time. His acting talent has never been in doubt ( Valhalla Rising , The Hunt and Hannibal being the best I've seen), but Another Round is probably his best performance in his entire career, and it won't be his last.
Another Round is a very interesting film. Wrapping up 2020 with a film about redemption, the search for catharsis and regret seems like a fun parallel to explore. The closing of Another Round is also the same as how 2020 will be closed, with a catharsis that is still in doubt whether it feels sincere or too forced. One thing is for sure, this is one of the best films of the year.
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