Another Round is a drunken masterpiece

I am a simple man. If I see Mads Mikkelsen is in a movie, I watch it.

In the Danish comedy-drama Another Round, a group of bored high school teachers discuss a Norwegian psychiatrist’s belief that 0.05% is the optimal blood content for confidence and creativity. The teacher who floats the idea isn’t half serious, but Mikkelsen’s character, Martin, decides to give it a go. With his newfound liquid courage, previously unruly students are suddenly engaged by his history lessons. His back and body feel better. Faculty members who barely noticed him before begin greeting him in the hallway.

His three compatriots learn of his success and decide they want in, but insist on masking the guilt of day-drinking with the facade of a research paper. This is officially a science experiment now. As is such, they’ll need rules and equipment. No drinking after 8. No drinking on weekends. They will smuggle breathalyzers into their classrooms alongside pint-sized bottles of booze. You get the sense that even as they type up their research paper, they all know good and well it’ll never be published. These guys just like drinking.

Indeed, the rules of their experiment are so flexible, it isn’t long until they decide that while 0.05% may be a good starting point, each person must have a unique alcohol need. So they experiment with varying levels of consumption. One teacher even tries huffing alcohol fumes so that the booze isn’t detectable on his breath. Another has to feign shock when a custodian discovers a hidden cache of booze on school grounds. All the slight changes to the rules culminate in a drink invented by jazz musicians in New Orleans, which is designed to look like a watered down cocktail, but is perhaps the most alcoholic beverage on the planet that won’t outright kill ya.

Like cancer, alcoholism is a subject that turns most films into gooey melodrama. Another Round is too honest for that. The movie frequently feels like it’s careening toward predictable heartache, yet veers hard into unfamiliar, often funny territory instead. It’s a movie that realizes that many of us know actual alcoholics in real life, and though we may wish they wouldn’t drink so much, we can still laugh with them and enjoy their company. I very much enjoyed the company of these characters.

Sideways is my favorite drinking movie. Another Round is damn near as good as that one. Hell, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if I grew to like it even more with time.

Check out my comic strip website, Gruelgo! These days I post a lot more frequently there than here!

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