Another Round: Reflection on Courage

In this article, Yus reflects on Thomas Vinterberg’s latest work, Another Round, the kind of film that makes him love cinema. Another Round celebrates the human’s courage to change, no matter how small that change is.

Directed and co-written by Thomas Vinterberg, the father of the late Dogme 95 movement (which eschewed lighting and production design to place needle-sharp focus on characters and plot), Another Round begins with a day-in-the-life of four male middle school teachers who, by way of midlife crises, are having some confidence issues in school and at home. But that pales in comparison to what Martin (played by the stellar Mads Mikkelsen) is going through, who has gotten so uninspired that he even stay quiet when he suspect his wife is leaving for an affair, and forget what point he makes in the middle of sentences when teaching history class in school. This man has internalized all of his burden and disappointment for so long that he can’t even seem to demand the respect and appreciation that he needs from anyone anymore.

Some familiar Danish actors regrouped for their frequent collaborator, Thomas Vinterberg, the director of Another Round (photo: Zentropa/Nordisk Film)

Things change when on Nikolaj’s 40th birthday dinner, the youngest and bubbliest of this bored bunch tells them of a hypothesis made by Norwegian physicist Finn Skarderud; that humans are born with a blood alcohol level deficit of 0.05%. By drinking around 1-2 glasses of wine a day (secretly) during work hours, this would have raised it to the appropriate level and is expected to bring more creativity, happiness and fulfillment into their lives.

Now when I see a plot line like this, my mind naturally wanders into cynical territory. I imagine the characters are going to show up to work drunker and drunker every day and then bad things will start to happen. But director Vinterberg, who braced through a horrifying personal tragedy in the making of the film (he lost his daughter in a car accident), was much the wiser and ‘wilder’ in his approach. He was uninterested in the cliched melodrama and preachy morals that make up the majority of our moviegoing experience. Instead, he presented alcohol as neither vice nor virtue, but as the one thing that most of us agree for it to be, an escape stimulant, which places it side by side with other stimulants such as movies, sports, and social media. Healthy doses can generate inspiration and pleasure, but too many doses may result in anxiety and melancholia.

Humans are born with a blood alcohol level deficit of 0.05%

-Finn Skarderud

Middle-aged teachers trying to escape mundane life by experimenting habits in Another Round (photo: Zentropa/Nordisk Film)

P.S. I am also a sucker for movies that deal with the inevitable current of time, and how everything gets swept by it and becomes meaningful in retrospect.

Another Round premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 12 September 2020. The film received several awards following the release: Best International Feature Film (93rd Academy Awards), Best Film (European Film Award) and Best Film Not in the English Language (BAFTA Award). Rent & purchase are available on Amazon Prime.

Thomas Vinterberg giving Oscar speech at the 93rd Academy Awards (photo: AMPAS)

Also read: Beanpole: A Tribute to Post-WWII Soviet Union, Oscar 2021: Daftar Pemenang Tahun Ini

Jakarta Cinema Club on The Page Podcast:

Yusgunawan Marto, Jakarta Cinema Club

Yusgunawan is a Director/Cinematographer at NYRA and senior writer at Jakarta Cinema Club

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