Friday, October 16, 2020

ANOTHER ROUND / DRUK - BFI London Film Festival 2020 - Day 8

Four middle-class, middle-aged Danish men are living in the Talking Heads nightmare - is this my beautiful wife? is this my beautiful car? how did I get here?!  So on a night out they decide to follow some cockamamie theory that if they just keep their blood alcohol level every so slightly raised at all times, they'll be looser, happier, more confident and more engaged with their lives.  And indeed it seems to work! Mads Mikkelsen's high school teacher - previously so disengaged he got hauled up his students - is suddenly like something out DEAD POET'S SOCIETY!  But the boys don't stop there, do they.  They decide to keep on up'ing the alcohol levels - for science! And naturally, as they start showing up drunk to work and getting bladdered on a Saturday night they might look like they're having the time of their lives, but their families notice and it wreaks havoc on their personal lives.  And - of course - alcohol might take the edge off anxiety or boredom and help a transformation, but it can't solve deep underlying pain.  And the beauty of this film is that as much as it is a wonderful celebration of male friendship and the joys of getting slightly drunk, it's also not blind to the way in which some people cannot stick to a moderate high and for whom alcoholism will exacerbate their depression The result is a film that is beautifully balanced - showing the negative and the positive.  And when it ends with a moment of true physical and emotional catharsis that exploits Mads Mikkelsen's dance training (who knew?!) it doesn't feel cheap or twee but earned and glorious and liberating.

Kudos to all involved - not least director and co-writer Thomas Vinterberg for his elegant and intimate direction, as well as Tobias Lindholm for his truthful and deeply funny script - but most of all to Mikkelsen for a physical performance that is so finely calibrated that it once again impresses you with his control and mastery of the art. 

ANOTHER ROUND has a running time of 113 minutes. The film played Toronto, San Sebastian and London 2020. It will be released in the UK on November 20th 

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