CURTAIN RAISER – ANOTHER ROUND
By Chloe Cordeiro and Rohan Menezes
Vox says it is “the sort of comedy fused with tragedy that may just best represent what life really is: a melancholy, glorious, slightly off-kilter dance,” Another Round, the Danish comedy-drama about teachers who experiment with alcohol to improve their social and professional lives, will open the 51st edition of the International Film festival of India.
Another Round has already won ‘Best Film’ at the BFI London Film Festival in the UK and the Premio Feroz Zinemaldia at the San Sebastián International Film Festival in Spain.
The film is described as an exhilarating – yet melancholy – tale about four high school teachers who descend into midlife drinking crises. Elements of fulfillment, existentialism, and personal tragedy play out as they “experiment” with day-drinking based on real-life psychiatrist Finn Skårderud’s theory that a blood alcohol content of 0.05 raises creativity. Emboldened by initial improvements in their professional and personal lives, they gradually increase their daily intake, leading to predictably comic but unfortunate consequences.
Vinterberg has said that his motivation for the film lay in his curiosity about alcohol’s ability to “elevate people to do very inspirational and fantastical things, and yet can still kill people and destroy families or societies.” He was initially convinced to make the film by his daughter Ida, who is always “brutally honest” with him, and loved the movie’s premise and script.
However, tragedy struck when, four days into filming, Ida died in a car crash at the age of 19. This unspeakable loss compelled Vinterberg into a period of personal uncertainty early in the film’s production, but he was eventually persuaded by actors, staff and his psychiatrist to channel his emotional journey into writing and direction. According to lead actor Mads Mikkelsen (who played Martin) – in an interview with IndieWire – the film underwent a metamorphosis when Vinterberg recommitted to the project. “It was always a film about embracing life, but because of this tragedy, it became a film about embracing life on a magnitude we did not anticipate,” he said.
As Vinterberg attests, he was supported and encouraged by his coworkers throughout the production process. “If you ever laugh at this movie,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s because there’s four actors and close friends of mine who try desperately hard to make their director laugh at a time where it wasn’t really possible.”
Particularly moved by the loss of Ida, Mikkelson gave his most promising performance yet, in the role of a disillusioned high school history teacher looking to spice up his particularly stale life. The climax of the movie is a drunken seaside dance by Martin displays fantastical and cathartic elements in its visual language and expression. Briefly blurring the lines between reality and the bounds of Martin’s intoxicated imagination, we delve into the world of the uncontrollable – one where he can be free, uninhibited and “weightless”, as Vinterberg puts it, in an interview.
Another Round is not a celebration or critique of alcohol consumption. It is instead a contribution, as Vinterberg aptly states to NPR, “to the drinking culture around the world that, you know, we know the dangers. But we should also, once in a while, just briefly remember the beauty of it.”