Director and writer Thomas Vinterberg removes personal moralistic agenda from Another Round to allow the story of history teacher Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) and his three friends’ day drinking experiment to unfold naturally. According to Vinterberg, the film began as a tribute to alcohol and Danish drinking culture, however the film’s final form has no negative or positive agenda towards the depressant – it simply illustrates reality.
The film equally shows alcohol’s liberating and life-destroying capabilities. This is of course an attempt through ideology to remove ideology, which is very reminiscent of the sentiment behind Dogme 95, of which Vinterberg cowrote the infamous manifesto with Lars Von Trier
Not only is the story entirely character rather than agenda driven, the cinematography and editing is too
The section of the Dogme manifesto which states ‘’I swear as a director to refrain from personal taste! I am no longer an artist’’ goes on to suggest the director’s ‘’supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings’’ and seems to me completely applicable to Another Round. Not only is the story entirely character rather than agenda driven, the cinematography and editing is too. Every choice is dictated by the emotions of the characters rather than an external force trying to impose a moral narrative onto the scenes.
Yet within this, there are the subtlest of moments where Vinterberg interrupts the reality of the film. Minimalistic devices like occasional hard cuts, ostensibly un-designed title cards and a freeze frame are equivalent to the pronounced brush strokes on a John Singer Sargent painting. They remind the viewer that they are still looking at a deliberate artistic construct irrespective of it attempting to imitate life as closely as possible.
the film’s reality is true to life while still being clear that it is an artistic construct
Such subtle devices allow viewer immersion but ensures it retains a level of self-awareness, so you don’t lose a critical edge when watching the story develop. This balance between allowing the film to unfold naturally with only the subtlest moments of ideological interference is remarkable. This is because it provides the film with honesty – the film’s reality is true to life while still being clear that it is an artistic construct.
Now, the potential issue with this approach is that the film provides nothing new to any debate around alcohol and just offers the pre-existing parameters. But likewise, I commend Vinterberg for removing himself from the project; alcohol and its effect on us is complicated and nuanced. To try and provide an answer in two hours is arguably impossible, and so what the film does instead is provide a mirror to Danish society. It encourages us to think for ourselves and is certainly persuasive in doing so.
The structure of the plot and some of the film’s thematic repercussions regarding Danish Society are reminiscent to Lars Von Trier’s Dogme 95 film The Idiots. The friends’ experiment gets progressively more extreme as they try to escape the mundanity and conformity of everyday life. The difference is that Another Round itself is not idiotic; it thankfully avoids pessimism for the sake of cheap provocation.
Maybe some audiences will find Another Round to have a slightly provocative tinge, but I think it will ultimately depend on your interpretation of the ending. The film reaches a kinetic crescendo, which regardless of your reading is brilliantly shot, and the camera work is controlled while retaining vibrancy and imperfection. For me, the ending is life confirming with a pinch of tragedy.
It’s undoubtable that Vinterberg is an innovative director, and with Another Round he continues to explore the possibilities of the medium. I am slightly conflicted on the film’s neutrality; it’s difficult to say whether it sniffs slightly of tedious provocation. I would say probably not as the topic of alcohol warrants this approach, plus there is undoubtedly enough genuine humanity here to bypass any allegations of cynicism.
In-article images courtesy of @theofficialmads via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.
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