Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skarderud once hypothesized the idea that human beings are born with a blood alcohol level 0,5% too low. The theory was not exactly praised, but rather much condemned. Facing the public’s attacks, Skarderud did not continue to develop his hypothesis, which thus remained untested. 20 years later, Skarderud’s philosophy landed in Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg’s hands, who decided to conduct a thought experiment which he titled Another Round.
Four high-school teacher friends – starred by Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, and Magnus Millang – discuss inebriation as a means to revitalize their tedious present. Paying homage to Soren Kierkegaard’s philosophy, the middle-aged gang decide to live with less fear and more creativity.
The opening title card cites Kierkegaard:
What is youth? A dream. djfañljfñlkajdfñlkajdfañslidfghjklkytrfbnjklñadqpoierpqhefjklm,vnn
What is love? The dream’s content.
And although I am not too familiar with Kierkegaard´s famous work Either/Or, I dare interpret dreaming here as an experience not too different from drunkenness. Something like a state of unsettled liquidity – which is not to say unsettling. The love which spurs the dream I understand to be a very broad conception of love. A love for life and all it gathers within it: friendship, knowledge, sex, music and dancing, et cetera.
With such a prelude, one would expect a celebration, a comedy. But despite the humoristic tone of Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm’s screenwriting, there is an obvious tension lingering in the background. As the characters progress on their pseudoscientific exploration, so do their drinking habits, leading to tragedy. The interesting thing is one cannot pinpoint the moment in which functional day-drinking becomes plain alcoholism – a well accomplished parallelism that allows the audience to empathise with Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) when he finds himself misplaced and confused, asking when it all went wrong.
Yet Another Round is not condemning alcohol. If it was, then the cast and director would have probably chosen a different preparation method. ‘We did quite a few experiments where we drank together. We filmed it and noticed how our speech got slurred, how the movements started changing’ shared Mikkelsen in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. ‘But to be honest, among the five of us [Vinterberg and co-stars Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, and Magnus Millang] we have enough experience with alcohol that we had a good idea where we were going’, he confessed.
In fact, the film might not be about drinking at all, but rather about adults trying to escape an unfulfilling monotony, an unbearable cowardice. The results of the experiment seem to matter little: it is the act of experimenting in itself what Another Round shows to be valuable – especially if done with friends.
Written by Martine Wu