Chances are your favourite film has a drinking scene in it. After all, for many, liquid inebriation is a major part of life and cinema, whether it’s used to celebrate or contemplate. But it’s relatively rare for a film to feature drinking as the primary focus of the plot. Step – or rather drunkenly stagger – forward, then, Oscar-winning Danish sizzler Another Round.
Director Thomas Vinterberg’s 11th feature, which won Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards earlier this year, centres on four bored Copenhagen high school teachers approaching middle age. The quartet mark psychology teacher Nikolaj’s 40th birthday over a fine meal with excellent champagne, vodka and wine. Even seemingly dull family man Martin (Mads Mikkelsen – Casino Royale, Rogue One) imbibes despite his no-alcohol stance early in the evening and the friends create mild uproar in the high-class restaurant before parading joyfully through the streets afterwards.
Soon, the men discuss the work of Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud, who claimed that getting to a certain level of constant drunkenness helped you become more creative, relaxed and all-round awesome. It’s all about blood alcohol content (BAC) and Skårderud reckons the sweet spot is 0.05. Martin decides to test this idea out by secretly drinking during the school day. His history classes are more enjoyable for him and his booze-loving teenage pupils, while his wife quickly find him more agreeable. Seeing his success, the other three chaps take on the idea and begin their own alcohol adventures.
Things get predictably messy when all four of the men start constantly pushing their BAC levels much higher than 0.05 each day. Divorced PE teacher Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen) dances on a bar at the end of a particularly raucous session, itself following a demented daytime episode where the wasted lads crash around a supermarket and attempt to fish in the harbour. These sequences are up there with the funniest scenes you’ll see this year, even if the strongest thing you drink is cream soda. The boozy hilarity is eventually mixed with the darker consequences of regular excess when Martin’s understandably weary wife Anika (Maria Bonnevie) leaves him, while Tommy loses his job after the headteacher summons staff for a meeting and he arrives an incoherent mess.
Mikkelsen is the star and offers an excellent empathetic performance but Larsen’s take on tragic Tommy is perhaps the standout. Magnus Millang’s Nikolaj and music teacher Peter (Lars Ranthe) have less to do but offer authentic portrayals to round off the key men. They are all believable friends too. Vinterberg, who co-wrote with Tobias Lindholm (writer-director of A Hijacking and co-writer of Vinterberg’s The Hunt) keeps the debauchery compelling, with laughs and sadder moments arriving at a leisurely pace, even if some viewers may want a quicker resolution. This woozy tale looks as welcoming as a big night out too, thanks to cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen. Luckily, you can spend a couple of hours drinking it all in without the inevitable hangover.
- Director: Thomas Vinterberg
- Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang
- Release date: July 2 (UK cinemas)