Another Round Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Four old friends are teachers at a high school in Copenhagen. Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) teaches history. He has not been fascinated by this lesson for a long time, Martin confuses the topics of the lessons, and the students are already starting to rebel against such a teacher, who, in their opinion, cannot properly prepare them for the exams. Martin also has problems with his wife Anika (Maria Bonnevie): some spark in their relationship has faded, Anika often takes night shifts and honestly admits that the current Martin is not the person she married.

Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen) teaches PE and also coaches the school’s football team. Tommy is divorced from his wife, lives alone in the company of an old, thoroughly sick dog.

Nikolai (Magnus Millang) teaches psychology at school, and as a psychologist he works with students who are experiencing problems. In family life, everything seems to be fine with Nikolai: he is married to a very wealthy woman, they live in an excellent house on the seashore and they have three children, but, by the way, just three small children can drive anyone crazy, especially the manner go to bed with your parents and pee there.

Well, Peter (Lars Rante) is a music teacher, he also leads the school choir. Peter has no family, he is lonely. And he can’t get the right presentation of songs from the choir.

Nikolai is forty years old, and old friends are going to dinner in a very pretentious restaurant: they are alone, without wives. At the restaurant, they are first treated to champagne, then black caviar is served with vodka, after which they bring excellent wine from Burgundy. Nikolay complains to his friends that he hardly sleeps because of the children, and then talks about a theory put forward by the Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skarderud, which says that people do not have enough alcohol in their blood to feel good – about half a ppm.

With such a dose, a person becomes relaxed, calm, courageous, open to creativity, and in such a state it becomes much easier for him to cope with life’s troubles. However, Nikolai explains, there are certain rules to be followed here, namely: don’t overdo it, keep the half ppm level, don’t drink after eight in the evening, and don’t drink on weekends.

During this conversation, friends persuade Martin, who is driving, therefore he drinks only water, to try vodka served with black caviar, he tries, softens and confesses to his friends about his problems and troubles.

Well, since everyone at the table has their own problems, they decide to scientifically test Skarderud’s theory, that is, start drinking a little every day at work.

***

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, together with Lars von Trier, signed the so-called “Dogma 95” – a manifesto in which these two trolls formulated the principle of making films in the literal sense of the word “shit and sticks” and explained that only this would be real art, and all other films that use scenery, artificial lighting, voice-over music, and so on, are meaningless bourgeois crap.

Moreover, it was Vinterberg who made the very first film, guided by this manifesto – it was the film “Triumph” in 1998. It was filmed with a hand-held camera with a shitty lens, only natural light was used, the sound was not processed – in general, it all looked really disgusting (I watched this film quite recently), and there was also a script written by Vinterberg himself, to put it mildly, strange , and at least something from this incomprehensibility was pulled out only by good actors: the main role was played by the chic Ulrich Thomsen, and Thomas Bo Larsen also had an interesting role in the film.

Of course, the critics from this film were delighted: “this is Dogma,” some wrote, “this is real art,” and so on. Vinterberg and Trier realized that the joke was great and that the audience could be regaled with something else, but Vinterberg got tired of filming Dogma pretty quickly, which is not surprising at all, after which he began to stage quite noteworthy films (both copyright and commercial ), and in 2012 he released a very sensational picture “The Hunt” with Mads Mikkelsen in the title role (Thomas Bo Larsen also played there), which claimed the Oscar in the nomination “Best Foreign Language Film”.

Last year he released this film, which in the original is called Druk (as far as I understand, this translates as “Drink”). The United Statesn version of the name, in my opinion, is quite good, and, by the way, the English name Another round (Spanish – Otra ronda) means about the same, so it is possible that the United Statesn name was simply translated from English.

What is this movie about? What are the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption? No, he’s not talking about that. About the dangers of uncontrolled drinking? No, not really about that either, although about that too. But first of all, it is about what people who are in a certain crisis should do with themselves. And this is not necessarily a midlife crisis, although the friends in the film are well over forty (let’s face it – over fifty, although they seem to be celebrating Nikolai’s fortieth birthday).

What to do when your work ceases to fascinate you, you are simply bored and uninterested in doing it, and you are afraid to change everything dramatically? What to do when family relationships are at an impasse, and you have two children? How to deal with loneliness and depression?

Many people in such cases try to solve their problems with alcohol – and the heroes of the film tried it. Yes, they understood that they were stepping on a slippery slope and taking certain risks. But only in this way can they return to their former self, start living again. And at first, as long as they stayed at “half a ppm,” their lives did noticeably improve.

Martin became interested in teaching again and regained the respect of his students. Tommy found inspirational words for a bespectacled schoolboy who didn’t get passed during a game. Nikolai came to his senses during a depression. Peter managed to get an impressive performance from the choir.

However, it is clear that 0.5 ppm is a state of unstable equilibrium. Then they’ll want to try 1 ppm because half went so well, then they’ll want to experience catharsis by getting drunk like they did when they were young, and, as is always the case when you’re trying to solve some problem with alcohol, then one minor problem. alcohol, maybe it will decide, but it will create ten new ones – this is typical of it.

What is good about this film is that the director does not slip into banal moralizing. In his own words (I read several interviews with him), in addition to researching the crisis in men’s lives, he also wanted to explore the Danes’ relationship with alcohol, and the Danes, like other northerners, have a very, very difficult relationship. And it just shows that alcohol, on the one hand, can help people to liberate themselves and find new meanings in their lives, but on the other hand, all this is very difficult to control and alcohol can easily destroy someone’s life.

By the way, at the beginning of the film they showed this famous Danish “alcohol race”, which the director called the “Lake Race” in an interview. I read in several books about similar Danish entertainments that are practiced both in schools (high school, where the students are old enough to drink beer), and in all sorts of higher institutions: there you need to participate in a walk or run, while at the same time through a certain a short distance you need something to drink – beer (for schoolchildren), bread vodka (for students). Everyone comes to the finish line in the state of blue crocodiles, and the main task is not to vomit before the enemy. Yes, really, in Denmark there are such competitions – this is such a cultural tradition. Not very clear to other Europeans, but still, let’s respect a foreign culture!

This whole story is very well filmed. By the way, one of the film critics in the review for some reason again began to mention this stupid “Dogma 95”, but here, thank God, there is no “Dogma” at all. Excellent and very professional production, wonderful work of the operator!

The production was particularly difficult due to the fact that a significant part of the film the characters are in various stages of intoxication, and only very naive people think that it is enough for an actor to roll a little – and after that, they say, he will be able to play a drunk so that it looks natural.

In reality, of course, this is absolutely not true, and it is very difficult for an actor to reliably play a drunk person. Also, of course, the actors do not drink alcohol before shooting. Vinterberg was specifically asked in an interview about whether the actors consumed alcohol during filming, and he categorically answered that, of course, no!

But in preparation for filming, the director said, they drank alcohol in order to experience the various stages of intoxication, and also studied numerous videos with real drunks in order to capture the characteristic features of movement and behavior in this state. The director, in an interview with IMDB, used the chic phrase “the behavior of a tragic ballerina” – this is when the movements of a drunk person become too impetuous and intense.

Well, Martin’s final dance – it is also very interestingly done: Martin drinks during the dance and Mads Mikkelsen shows how Martin’s manner of movement changed. Vinterberg said they weren’t sure at first that the scene would fit and that they could film it properly, but Mikkelsen did a great job with the scene. (By the way, the actor danced in his youth and even studied at the Gothenburg Ballet Academy.)

Of course, in any film, apart from staging and camera work, acting is very important. And here the acting ensemble is chosen perfectly and all four played wonderfully. The main violin, of course, was played by the wonderful actor Mads Mikkelsen – Martin turned out to be very natural and diverse: he was completely extinct at the beginning, transformed after the start of the experiment, then went through several quite natural stages, but at the same time managed to understand and realize how exactly he should live on .

But apart from Mikkelsen, the other three actors – Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang and Lars Rante – played their roles very well: it was not without reason that at the San Sebastian festival the prize for best male role (“Silver Shell”) was awarded to all four actors at once. Also, the picture collected all the main prizes – the best film, the best director, the best male role (Mikkelsen) and the best work of the screenwriter – from the European Film Academy. Well, it is clear that the picture would have received much more prizes if the corresponding film festivals were held in 2020, and almost all of them were cancelled.

Great movie, loved it. It seems to be nothing special, just about life, but it is very catchy. And it cannot help but catch: everyone in life one way or another faces similar problems, everyone tries to somehow solve them, and alcohol is present in one way or another in the lives of a huge number of people, so all this is understandable and close.

Look, yes! Few films came out in 2020, but this one is one of the best, no doubt!

PS By the way, it makes sense to watch this film after having a couple of glasses (a couple of glasses of wine) – to tune in to the appropriate wave of 0.5 ppm. But, of course, do not allow the “continuation of the banquet”: do not raise the degree, so as not to become like the heroes of this film. Alcohol in small doses is not useful at all in any quantities, alas. Alcohol must be curbed, otherwise it will curb you.

 

Another Round / Druk movie review

Director: Thomas Vinterberg Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, Lars Rante, Maria Bonnevie, Helena Reingor Neumann, Susse Wold, Magnus Sjerup Silas Cornelius Wang, Albert Rudbeck Lindhardt

Tragicomedy, Denmark-Sweden-Netherlands, 2020, 110 min.

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