Another Round: TIFF Review
Reuniting the talents of star Mads Mikkelsen and director Thomas Vinterberg (their 2012 film The Hunt resonates as a haunting portrait of mob mentality), Another Round takes our preconceived notions towards addiction dramas and cleverly subverts them at every turn. Instead of mawkishly loathing in a sense of dread, this Danish film registers one of the most authentic portrayals of substance abuse seen onscreen.
Another Round follows Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), a dull teacher stuck in the doldrums of a midlife crisis. His wife can barely stand him, he has a distant dynamic to his kids, and his lengthy lectures fail to incite much interest from his students. While attending a birthday dinner with his teacher friends (played respectively by Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, and Magnus Millang), the group decide to embrace a new pact: to consume enough alcohol to operate daily at .05 BAC.
The initial results display newfound confidence for the four, while also reflecting the inherent dangers behind their newfound lifestyle. This description may leave some blueprinting of the upcoming narrative beats, yet Vinterberg never settles for simplistic truths. The character’s journey isn’t a steady rise and fall, but rather blending the liberation and stunted inhibitions that booze imbues into their mindsets.
Few addiction dramas understand the conjoined reality of these extreme tonalities, with Vinterberg exhibiting a rare portrait that packs an authentic punch. While the second half offers a few searing dramatic frames, much of Another Round indulges in a deftly humorous sensibility, often having fun with the character’s extreme dedication to their pact. All of this set-up builds up to a masterfully unhinged finale, one that leaves an unforgettable impression with its creative verve.
It helps that Another Round‘s material is elevated by a superb cast. I can’t hide my deep admiration for Mads Mikkelsen - an actor who continues to evolve while rarely getting the credit he deserves (his performances in The Hunt and the video game Death Stranding rank as some of the best in recent memory). Here, Mads refreshingly plays against type as a nebbish school teacher, portraying middle age milieu with the kind of depth and subdued emotionality he always imbues into his characters. Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, and Magnus Millang are equally as assured in their performances, selling the quartet’s strong comradery while handling the film’s delicate tonal balance.
I can’t say enough positive remarks about Another Round, an equally intoxicating and affecting portrait that boasts honest truths at every turn. Whenever Vinterberg and Mikkelsen decide to team up again, I will be first in line to support them.