Get your drinks on with this entertaining Danish flick!
Watching the new Danish drinking film “Around Round,” I easily imagine what probably would have happened if it got an American remake. It’s a tradition, I suppose, in order to appease to an American crowd, and unless, they know how two handle it, it usually ends in disasters. If this was made into an R-rated comedy with the obligatory crass behavior, it probably would have been all flimsy, mean-spirited, and dumb.
But let’s not get there yet, because now, “Another Round” is a lively, original, and entertaining example of how alcohol can affect people’s lives for better or worse. The better would be that they would feel more alive, while the worse would be they would destroy themselves and their families. It represents them with truth, humor, and depth, and this type of character study is both risky and sharp.
We meet four high school teachers and best friends-Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), Tommy (Thomas Bo Larson), Peter (Lars Ranthe) and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang)-whose lives are not as exhilarating as the old days, and can barely reach their students. Martin has the biggest problems, regarding his dreary family and difficult history class.
One night, as they celebrate Nikolaj’s birthday, they have a few drinks, which leads them to having an idea. Inspired by Finn Skaderud’s theory that having a blood alcohol content at 0.050 would make them more relaxed, they decide to drink in certain sections of the day. The conditions: their BAC can’t be at 0.05% and they can’t drink after 8pm. It works successfully, as the teachers and friends keep their drinks and lessons on a delicate balance. But of course, with alcoholism, there are always side effects and consequences.
On the side, we get a teen drinking game, in which a team has to run with a case of beer around a park, and drink a bottle at each bench. Whoever vomits first, gets deducted by minutes. And there’s a scene later when the teachers celebrate with some recent graduates, and Martin is dancing. Those scenes are lit with the right cinematography, and are attractive in how they’re directed. None of these moments are crass, and they deliver when you look at them from the right perspective.
“Another Round was directed by Thomas Vinterberg, who previously guided Mikkelsen in “The Hunt” and also made the 2015 version of “Far From the Madding Crowd.” Here, he delivers a drinking picture that jumps to no conclusions, even though we can pretty much guess the outcome, and uses the actors for the right and wrong choices. There are families affected by their husband’s drinking, and a student who needs help in passing his class, and both these side with filled with sincerity and tears.
Mikkelsen, Larson, Millang, and Ranthe are all excellent in the ways they express their characters through the booze, and how too much of it can be a bad thing. When they’re not drinking, they use their emotions, and when they’re drunk, they use more emotions. So it evens out on both sides. We see these four men as humans trying to better themselves, and they all win and lose simultaneously.
Please drink responsibly.
Now Streaming on the Gene Siskel Film Center Virtual Cinema
On Demand This Friday