Review: Another Round

Written and directed by Thomas Vinterberg, co-written by Tobias Lindholm, four friends, all high school teachers, test a theory that they will improve their lives by maintaining a constant level of alcohol in their blood. Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, Lars Ranthe, Maria Bonnevie, Helene Reingaard, Magnus Sjørup, Silas Cornelius Van and Albert Rudbeck Lindhardt.

Ignoring the fact that the synopsis is right above this sentence, going into this film with very little knowledge is probably the best way to do it because the story is so unexpectedly effective, it moves in such a natural way and builds to the ending beautifully. The whole concept is surprisingly brilliant, the writing is such a perfect blend of comedy and drama, it’s funny and outlandish but also a deeply personal exploration of the mid-life crisis. It’s somehow simultaneously sad, fun, cynical and foolish, the writing hits so many tones and themes to create this entirely compelling, human and relatable story about trying to get yourself out of a rut, and they certainly wouldn’t be the first people to do so using alcohol.

The story is really anchored by these central four characters played by Mikkelsen, Larsen, Millang and Ranthe, they build an incredibly strong bond, it throws back to childhood friendship and they all bring out the inner child in each other. They’re so easy to watch because the connection they have is simple, it’s built on loyalty, honesty and mutual respect. Mikkelsen is a superb actor all round but this may be his best performance yet, it has such a relatable quality, he’s utterly flawed but his desire to improve and find his passion again is admirable, even if they don’t go down a professional route to do so. His attempts to rebuild his family life are extremely compelling, it brings out a much more vulnerable side to him. All of them walk the lines between likable and unlikable, pity and disdain so well, which is what makes them all so easy to connect with, each of them has their individual struggles but really they’re just trying to fight the mundanity of everyday life which is something that’s particularly relevant at the moment. They each create very individual personalities for their characters, the larger focus may be on Mikkelsen’s Martin but there’s enough time spent on each of them to feel tangible rather than just his friends.

The direction and cinematography are similarly well done, there’s some stunning shots in the mix and the way its shot builds a sincere amount of tension and suspense, playing on whether or not they’ll get caught which gradually increases throughout. For a film that’s based in a school, it really makes the most of its outdoor locations, with picturesque views and giving it a smaller town, community feel rather than big city antipathy. It also creates an impressively strong atmosphere, you may be slightly taken aback by how strongly it draws you in, it has a real depth to it which when balanced with the humour that it holds, is a brilliant combination.

Another Round is the ultimate coming-of-age film for mid-life crises, it’s surprisingly relatable, funny and compelling. Mads Mikkelsen gives what may be his top career highlight to date and the whole cast create this wonderful friendship that brings out the inner child in them all, it’s silly and fun, and incredibly easy to watch. The story works unbelievably well, the concept is simple but the way that it plays out is full of tension, suspense, drama and emotion, it builds wonderfully to its sad yet hopeful peak which includes a random dance number from Mikkelsen that will likely become an iconic moment of cinema. This was one of the best films at London Film Festival this year but is also undoubtedly one of the best films of 2020.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½

Reviewed as part of London Film Festival

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