Another Round (Druk in its native Danish) is a Danish-Swedish drama which poses the question – how much is just enough?
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) plays Martin, a quiet History teacher who has seen better days. Struggling to engage with anything on both a professional and personal level, a night out leads both him and his colleagues to start out on a grand experiment. Are men born with an alcohol deficit, and can a small amount of alcohol every day improve one’s standing in the world?
It’s a ridiculous concept but watching these men gather together, they reminded me of so many real men I’ve met. I can definitely name at least 4 former colleagues who would have been more than up for this experiment, and whilst it’s tough to watch the grown men in the staff room sipping on water bottles of vodka or stashing bottles of wine in the PE equipment cupboard, there is something so real about it. The chemistry between the four leads is outstanding, and their conversations can quickly turn to overzealous boasting matches as they are excitedly talking over each other with ideas and speculation.
Thomas Vinterberg directs and manages to keep a carefully balanced tone. We flow through the various stages of Martin and his friend’s experiments. Moments of peer pressure are beautifully shown in the claustrophobic manner in which they feel. The sequences where the men go all out are equally hysterical and leave the audience constantly switching between reaching for a bottle themselves or throwing it down the drain. When the experiment seems to have gone all too far, Vinterberg again manages to course correct the tone right down, even to points of tender agony.
It is not just the bond between the four men that elevate this film, but the bond created between the men and the students they teach. You feel the ecstasy that Martin feels when he finally bonds with his seniors. You feel the pull of heartstrings when P.E. teacher Tommy lets the tiny child nicknamed Specs hold his hand. Vinterberg and his team have taken something absurd and turned it into something fragile and real that showcases the human spectrum of emotion.
This likely won’t be the last you hear of Another Round this year, with Mikkelsen highly tipped to be a big awards contender. The final sequence of the film will leave you with no doubt as to why.