“Another Round” is the story of middle aged Danish men in a rut, who become alcoholics while convincing themselves they are not.
Their foray into “studying” the effects of alcohol is deeply flawed and clearly a terrible idea from the start. When taken very literally, this absurd lifestyle study is kind of a disappointing story hook in that this group of men discovers how fun it is to be drunk all the time and the intense negative effects that might result. That’s not to say this isn’t entertaining to watch. As character performances, Mikkelson is the standout, but his supporting cast is essential to the story not being the sad musings of a single person.
The film redeems itself when its direct with its conceptual framework. This is best delivered by a struggling student taking an exam and asked about the concept of anxiety according to some philosopher, and he responds that anxiety is the human response to the notion of failure, and more importantly, with having failed. “You must accept yourself as fallible in order to love others and life.” In this context, the drunken escapade of these men is a metaphor for their failings, perceived or real, as professionals, as fathers, as unfulfilled people. This is then reinforced by Mad Mikkelson’s history lessons about famous and successful drunks like Churchill, FDR, and Hemingway, and a short montage in the film showing modern leaders in an intoxicated state.
“Another Round” works as a meditation on not taking the chances in life for granted, and that failure is both essential and deeply subjective. This story is mostly tragic, and if focused on the literal object of alcohol, it contains muddled ideas on alcohol and what it meant and did for each of our Danish subjects. One roots for something less cliché and predictable than a group of middle aged men succumbing to their day drinking, but that moment never arrives. What carpe diem style message it does conjure works well, but would amount to very little without the performances of Mikkelson and company.