Arts Festival

Benders to the end of time

OH captain, my captain! Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) the history teacher (in the black suit), showing his students how it is done in Thomas Vinterberg’s ‘Another Round’. Photograph courtesy EUFF, by Henrik Ohsten

FILMS WARNING SOCIETY of the dangers of alcohol addiction may come and go, but Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round will stay with you for a long time. This Danish work which is unequivocally the king of this year’s European Film Festival South Africa, is available without cost and online until 24 October 2021.

Like Alfred Hitchcock’s work Rope (1948), which is based on Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the work insinuates on our sensibilities in the form of a dare. How high can you allow your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) to go and still be functional? It’s the kind of dare that fuels a wide array of challenges, ones that are touted in our society as being about stamina and coming-of-age, fitting in with peers and raising the so-called ‘cool’ stakes. For youngsters of a certain age.

But what happens when the main protagonists in a dare of this nature are not curious teens pushing boundaries? What if they are educators and role models to young people? It is here where we meet Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) and Peter (Lars Ranthe), at Nikolaj’s 40th birthday party. They all teach at a local high school. And the hard alcohol flows freely, partnered as it is with the different courses of the meal in this semi-serious boys’ night out.

And so it goes. Maintaining a BAC of 0.05%, they’re on their game. Cheerful and competent, capable and brilliant, they teeter on the edge of what is permissible, imbibing vodka and absinthe, beer and whisky and whatever else they need to keep them going. But when this stops being exciting, what happens next? Why, the stakes get shifted, of course. Using a whole range of pseudo-scientific examples ripped out of context, from Winston Churchill to Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Ernest Hemingway, the film feels like a dangerous one, which skitters on the edge of being seductive to you in the audience. Only it isn’t. As a work in entirety, this film is very thoughtfully placed between parameters which take you to the very edge of control but it doesn’t stop there. The effect is not pretty. It is moral without being preachy.

With a brilliant directorial sense of containment and an astute knowledge of the value of the film itself, Another Round takes hair-raising bends that will leave you squirming with worry. There is a combination of ultra-fine storytelling and music that interfaces with circumstances, realising a magnificent film that is able to knit together small threads of stories, from little boys playing soccer to bigger boys being paralytically stressed by academic pressure, to an elderly dog left alone. These rich threads are interwoven masterfully into the full and tragic grand narrative of the piece in a way that will leave you significantly disturbed and frankly, gutless, with the work’s perfect and devastating closure. In simple terms, this film will never leave you.

Another Round is directed by Thomas Vinterberg and is performed by a cast headed by Michael Asmussen, Maria Bonnevie, Cassius Aasay Browning, Jens Basse Dam, Oskar Kirk Damsgaard, Aya Grann, Martin Greis-Rosenthal, Milas Hansen, Waldemar Beer Hansen, Christina Hildebrandt, Dorte Højsted, Carl David Schubert Holm-Nielsen, Max Kaysen Høyrup, Gustav Sigurth Jeppesen, Morten Jørgensen, Niels Jørgensen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Freja Bella Lindahl, Albert Rudbeck Lindhardt, Thomas Guldberg Madsen, Mads Mikkelsen, Magnus Millang, Lucas Helt Mortensen, Le Münster-Swendsen, Helene Reingaard Neumann, Maria Ovi, Clara Phillipson, Lars Ranthe, Frederik Winther Rasmussen, Per Otto Bersand Rasmussen, Matti Rochler, Mercedes Claro Schelin, Magnus Siørup, Morten Thunbo, Silas Cornelius Van, Aksel Vedsegaard and Susse Wold. Written by Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm, it is produced by Kasper Dissing and Sisse Graum Jørgensen and features creative input by Sturla Brandth Grøvlen (cinematography), Janus Belleskov Jansen and Anne Østerud (editing), Sabine Hviid (production design) and Ellen Lens and Manon Rasmussen (costumes). In Danish with English sub-titles, it is part of the 8th European Film Festival South Africa, screening online and without cost until 24 October 2021. Bookings are now open.

2 replies »

  1. Robyn, as per usual, you absolutely capture the work with your review. I watched this movie – and am still feeling quite, well, gutted by it all. What an extraordinary piece of work – I thought the direction was incredibly masterful (even more so when I read that the director’s daughter was killed in an accident three days before filming started)…

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