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The comfort of Another Round

Published:  23 February, 2022

From the second you taste that first sip of alcohol, whether it be a frothy pint during freshers week or a glass of wine at a family dinner, a lifelong balancing act has begun.

Thomas Vinterberg’s tale of midlife crisis, Another Round, begins with a booze-fuelled lakeside run that features beautiful teenagers sprinting and drinking in total abandonment. 

Like it or not, alcohol brings people together – it is a facilitator for love and friendship. According to Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud, it also unlocks man’s potential. He suggests that humans are born with a blood alcohol level that is 0.05% too low (the equivalent of 1-2 glasses of wine). 

It is this hypothesis that we are all born with an inbuilt alcohol deficiency, which forms the plot for Vinterberg’s Oscar-winning Danish film. 

Tragedy and comedy collide as four middle-aged high school teachers embark on an alcohol-infused experiment, hoping to become better versions of themselves.

At the centre of this film is Mads Mikkelsen’s character Martin, a man in the midst of a mid-life crisis, stuck in a job with a revolving door of young people.

Buoyed by the prospect of feeling more relaxed, poised and courageous, the four friends begin day-drinking, from 8am-8pm, to maintain their higher abv levels. At first, they reap the benefits; Martin says: “I haven’t felt this good in ages.” Suddenly he commands the classroom, captivating his history students with lessons from drunken high achievers like Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ernest Hemmingway. 

The quartet reference the Danish pianist Klaus Heerfordt, who could only play, “at the exact point of being neither drunk nor sober” – this is the moment in which the four friends cross the precipice and collectively agree to up the dosage, making the comedy even funnier and the tragedy even more tragic. 

In a recent column for Harpers, Jerry Lockspier asked: Is alcohol a net good or net bad for society? The NHS spends approximately £3.5 billion a year treating alcohol-related issues, which would suggest booze is bad. However, alcohol plays a vital role in how we socialise and connect. Just think of the friendships and relationships that might not have occurred without that initial liquid ice breaker. 

Another Round doesn’t endorse or denounce booze definitively. Instead, it ebbs and flows, occasionally expressing the joys of alcohol whilst acknowledging its potential to devastate the drinker’s life. 

It is the former that makes this film so compelling and unique. Cinema has already addressed the alcoholic’s demise in films such as Leaving Las Vegas and The Lost Weekend, but movies rarely explore the potential benefits of drinking. 

I’m not talking about the kind of misleading ‘health’ benefits you might read about in certain tabloids and magazines, but the way alcohol can enrich people’s lives and create memories that last a lifetime, despite alcohol’s notorious impairment on our ability to recollect. 

From the opening lake run to the champagne-soaked finale, the fleeting yet euphoric warmth that alcohol can bring is ever-present in Another Round.