TIFF 2020 Review: ‘Another Round’ Makes a Mockery of Alcoholism

User Rating: 4

As someone struck by the profoundness of The Hunt, it pains me to admit Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round produced feelings of intense displeasure. Reuniting with Mads Mikkelsen, Vinterberg refrains from offering another complex portrayal of fatherhood thrown against the ropes of society. Instead, this follow-up collaboration ditches character study for buddy comedy shenanigans. The genre blending emits a foul stench of insensitivity towards those suffering from alcoholism in the later stages of their lives. The serious addiction is no laughing matter, and using it as a framework for men dealing with midlife crises sends the worst kind of coping message.

Mikkelsen’s Martin is a history teacher at the local Gymnasium (Denmark’s version of high school). His apathy for the material he covers is evident to his pupils, noticeable enough to warrant PTA intervention. Whether experiencing anxiety about his stagnant life or not, Martin isn’t hiding his indifference well. His domestic situation isn’t much better: his wife Trine (Maria Bonnevie) validates Martin’s concerns that he’s become boring.

Martin is finally shaken out of his doldrums during a fancy night out with his male colleagues. At the pretentious dinner, Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe), and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) discuss a theory posed by a psychologist named Skårderud. It describes a state of behavioral enlightenment achieved by reaching a perfectly balanced blood alcohol content level (BAC). The magic number to hit is 0.05%. Martin’s pals propose he test out this hypothesis to see if it alters his classroom environment for the better. Even though Martin’s supervisors just instituted a “No Drinking” policy during the semester session for the student body, that doesn’t stop Martin from setting a terrible example for the underclassmen.

Martin sneaks bottles of vodka onto campus, guzzling enough to reach the alleged zen state. Subsequently, he finds his confidence boosted while leading class, coming up with new and inventive ways to capture student interest. Martin has transformed into the “cool” teacher, every lesson an adventure in historical discovery. Heck, Winston Churchill pretty much becomes a rock star to these kids. Vinterberg lays on their reinvigorated enthusiasm way too thick, directing large crowds of extras to behave like each moment is the pinnacle of their lives. Youth culture isn’t uniform — it’s varied and nuanced, even with shared experiences. To treat Gen Z with such broad homogeneity demonstrates an obvious lack of social research.

Had Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg’s script focused solely on Mikkelsen’s Martin, we’d receive a depressing but authentic look at how midlife listlessness opens the door to alcoholism. However, male toxicity dominates the narrative, using shared discontent to justify endangerment and family implosion. Martin’s positive feedback encourages the rest of the guys to jump aboard the social experiment bandwagon. Predictably, 0.05% is just the trial phase — these tough fellas want to see how much more their macho bods can handle. Sorry, but if the only way to reclaim your youth is to compromise your sobriety, you were never fun to begin with.

Much has been made about Another Round’s celebratory ending, though achieving that level of ecstasy should not warrant a path of self-destruction masked as tomfoolery. The humor never lifts off the ground because it has no basis in reality — behavioral eccentricities are not a gimmick; they are a cry for help. Vinterberg’s latest is irresponsible and ironically fails to enlighten cautionary minds. Grumbling men past their prime don’t need a platform for their superficial grievances, yet Another Round gives them one.

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Written by
Joseph Braverman is a 31-year-old film school alum from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Digital Media. He considers himself one of the biggest Star Wars fans in the galaxy, living by a golden rule that there is no such thing as a “bad” Star Wars movie. Joseph lives in Los Angeles, CA, and enmeshes himself in all things entertainment, though he’ll occasionally take a break from screen consumption to hike in Malibu or embark on new foodie explorations. Vehemently opposed to genre bias, he feels strongly that any good film is worthy of Oscar consideration. Joseph is also a proud member of the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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