Review: Another Round (2020)

Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Screenwriters: Tobias Lindholm, Thomas Vinterberg
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, Lars Ranthe, Maria Bonnevie
Genres: Comedy, Drama
MPAA Rating: NR
Release Dates: 12/4/20 (Theatres); 12/18/20 (Streaming)
Runtime: 1h 57min
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Where to Watch: Rent/Buy
Oscar Nomination(s): Likely–International Feature; Possible–Actor (Mikkelsen); Long-Shot–Original Screenplay

Mads Mikkelsen has become a sort of international treasure, having starred in both Danish-centered films and others, including as villains in Doctor Strange and the NBC series Hannibal. He was excellent in The Hunt, released several years ago and nominated for the International Feature Film Oscar — formerly known as the Foreign Language Oscar — so it was great to see him once again in a juicy role that allows him to flex his acting muscles in a film that takes place in his native Denmark. Another Round is Denmark’s official submission for the International Feature Oscar this year, and based on my current predictions, it’s currently favored to win, and it’s easy to see why: Mikkelsen and the other actors are great, the script is funny but also dramatic, and overall a very clever exploration of alcoholic culture in Denmark. 

Another Round isn’t a perfect film; in fact, I was hoping for as much character development for the supporting characters as there was for Mikkelsen’s character. That said, I’m glad we did get to see how each of the four men dealt with various issues in their lives. The premise of the movie revolves around a quartet of men who vow to maintain a blood alcohol level of at least 0.08 on daily basis, which requires them to drink during the day; they’re all teachers who are struggling to connect with their students, and it’s interesting to see how the near-constant consumption of alcohol affects their lives, both negatively and positively. Even when you think you know where the story is going, the narrative goes in a different direction — which is a good thing. 

I can see how Vinterberg’s film can be misconstrued as a celebration of alcohol culture in Denmark, whereas, to me, it seems to be a criticism of that culture. Sure, there are consequences for getting drunk and doing dumb things, just as there’d be elsewhere, but in Denmark the students are actually encouraged to drink, and the teachers may even drink with them. Can you imagine anything like that happening in the U.S.? For someone like me who is unfamiliar with Danish culture in general, it’s a fascinating way to experience it in all its complexities. 

The individual beats of the narrative don’t always work, but it works very well as a cohesive work. That’s mainly thanks to the incredibly complex work of Mikkelsen, who’s never better here. Even though we don’t know much about his [now-strained] relationship with his wife and his personality, Mikkelsen conveys it so authentically and with depth that you empathize with him as much as you can. He’s at times funny and charming, and at others, heartbreaking. In a less-crowded year, I’d love to see him obtain his first Best Actor Oscar nomination, but that seems a bit far-fetched. The last scene, in particular, pretty much sealed the deal for me in terms of his captivating performance — no spoilers here!