Review: Mads Mikkelsen helps 'Another Round' go down smoothly
Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn
Prepare to see the wonderfully versatile Mads Mikkelsen (“Hannibal” tv series) like never before. Generally attracted to more serious arthouse fare (though he’ll be replacing Johnny Deep in the forthcoming “Fantastic Beast” film), Mikkelsen lets loose in Thomas Vinterberg’s invigorating “Another Round.” He plays Martin, a glum history teacher who’s approaching a mid-life crisis. His students and wife want nothing to do with him, and his bitterness overshadows passion. But something changes following a night out with a group of childhood buddies – Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe), and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) – where Martin chugs a few glasses of wine and downs shots of vodka in rapid succession. Suddenly, life comes into a hazy focus.
Obviously, this is a metaphor for the severity of alcoholism but Vinterberg manipulates it into something far more entertaining. Nikolaj mentions in passing how a Norwegian psychiatrist’s study showed that people who maintained a blood alcohol content of .05 are more productive members of society. Taking it as a challenge, Martin and the crew undertake that philosophy, sneaking booze at breakfast, school, and everywhere in between to maintain that buzz. They assume their findings will be the basis for a future report, but it’s really a cry for help and Vinterberg puts a satirical edge on their new social obsession.
Some members of this day-drinking brigade find moderate success in their professions - Martin starts infusing his daily lectures with humor, wit, and sarcasm, while others are one drink away from slipping into a coma. It can be a conflicting message, but one that eventually confirms what we’re all thinking: addiction is bad. It’s also tragically poetic how happy Martin becomes when he begins this journey. Not only does he energize his students in their mission for a post high school life, but once a dancer, Martin starts to dance again, leading to a lively final sequence that rallies as one of 2020’s finest cinematic achievements, but in a strange, ironic way, maybe the saddest? Eh, who am I kidding, it’s a total blast.
Aside from several, rather important moments getting brushed over - a friend dies and Martin’s marriage crumbles (poor Maria Bonnevie is left to be the nagging wife, though she has some solid moments to boast) - “Another Round” keeps the shenanigans (and booze) flowing. Elevated by its cast, specifically Mikkelsen who delivers an authentic portrayal steeped in depression and loneliness, but never unfulfilling, “Another Round” ends on a cathartic note, taking an honest look at substance abuse while appreciating the art that is life.
What a life, indeed.
ANOTHER ROUND is now available on VOD.