LFF 2020 ‘Another Round’ Review: Those Who Can’t Teach, Drink

Martin is a mediocre teacher. He blames the students and their short attention spans but he’s disinterested. He can’t connect with his students. At home he experiences similar barriers between himself and his family. He’s not alone, his three teacher friends have the same problem. One of them suggests that according to an philosopher, the human race has a slightly too low blood alcohol level. Deciding to put this to the test they begin to indulge at work. After initial success they soon find it difficult to stick to their new limits.

The film presents the thesis at the heart of it’s premise. The alcohol makes the men more relaxed and uninhibited, allowing them to excite the people around them, provoke a response and feel they are making progress. They cite famous alcoholics who excelled whilst drinking heavily and take an intellectual approach to drinking on the job. It’s reminiscent of the Nietzschean concept of a superior class of intelligentsia breaking the rules set to control the morally and intellectually inferior. A fall is inevitable.

Ultimately the fall comes only because they went too far. It’s not that habitually drinking to feel normal is a problem, but rather that men will always be tempted to go further and consume more than is necessary. It becomes a tale of greed rather than a study of morally acceptable inebriation. Once the bell tolls and we need our falling action it is very abrupt and disproportionate. It almost feels like a moral lecture on the dangers of booze, the very last thing you’d expect from a provocateur like Vineberg.

Slightly more subtle is the fact that really they only succeeded because bringing down their inhibitions allowed them to take a real interest and enthusiasm in the people around them. It’s their attitudes that needed shifting, and the alcohol may have even just been a placebo effect, giving them permission to actually care. But the causes behind the disaffection are unexplored and it’s portrayal of the effects of alcohol are a little simplistic.

The film does, however, come to life when drawing comedy from it’s premise. Mikkelsen is an excellent comic performer. His screen presence could perhaps be compared to Keanu Reeves, but more expressive. He has a similarly stoic attitude and so to see him cut lose is quite the thing to behold, especially in the explosive finale to the film which sees him embrace chaos.

Another Round is minor Vinterberg. It lacks the depth, thematic ambition and complexity of his great works. However it is good fun, an interesting concept and a fairly compelling drama. Mikkelsen thrives, the supporting cast avail themselves well and the audience will feel satisfied for a bit but may soon feel like having another.

Three Stars

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