Another Round (Thomas Vinterberg, 2020, Denmark/Sweden/Netherlands)

  Thomas Vinterberg's Another Round marks something of a "return home" for the noted Danish auteur. Following a series of ambitious non-Danish projects (Far from the Madding Crowd, Kursk), Vinterberg's latest brings him home to his native Denmark. This is the second collaboration between Vinterberg and popular Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, after 2012's critically-acclaimed The Hunt. This time around, Vinterberg and Mikkelsen are offering a far less bleak vision - in fact, Another Round is characterized by many moments of exuberance and joie de vivre. That's not to say the film is lacking tragedy. Personal tragedy also accompanies the making of the film, as Thomas Vinterberg lost his daughter shortly before production started. He decided to proceed with the film as a means of therapy.

Round begins with an innately absurd premise that feels like something out of an American frat comedy a la The Hangover. Four middle-aged friends - all teachers at a local high school - decide to run an experiment. Inspired by a theory by a philosopher that humans are born with too little alcohol in their bloodstream, the friends begin consuming alcohol in gradually larger amounts to test this theory. What starts as a fun game eventually turns into something more serious and dark.

If you can get over this absurd premise, there is a lot to enjoy in Another Round. The performances are all around great, with each friend manifesting his own form of midlife crisis. The film is also darkly funny in a deadpan way, and manages to strike a balance between seriousness and silliness. The finale is also perhaps one of the most memorable film finale's in recent memory. While Another Round perhaps doesn't exceed to the heights of Vinterberg's Festen, it is still deserving of the international praise heaped upon it. One hopes that Vinterberg's collaboration with Mikkelsen continues.

8/10

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