There is a theory that man is born with half a per mille too little. That alcohol in the blood opens the mind to the outside world, problems seem smaller and creativity increases. We know it well; after the first glass of wine, the conversation lifts, the possibilities open up. Martin is a high school teacher. He feels old and tired. His students and their parents want him terminated to increase their average. Encouraged by the per mille theory, Martin and his three colleagues throw themselves into an experiment to maintain a constant alcohol impact in everyday life. If Churchill won World War II in a dense fog of spirits, what could the strong drops do for them and their students? The result is positive in the beginning. Martin's class is in a different way now, and the project is being promoted to a real academic study with the collection of results. Slowly, but surely, the alcohol makes the four friends and their surroundings loosen up. The results are rising, and they really begin...Written by
The Copenhagen restaurant Lumskebugten, as well as the pubs Alléenberg and Sankt Peder are featured in the movie. See more »
What a Life
Written by Alexander Lørup Malone, Emil Goll and Joachim Christiansen
Performed by Scarlet Pleasure See more »
A drunken apology
Another Round is a protest film. The film protests against prohibitionism. Denmark has a culture of drinking. Traditionally Danes drink when they are celebrating, and they drink to break the ice. Having a beer with a working lunch would not have raised an eyebrow as little a decade or two ago. It isn't uncommon for highschoolers to drink heavily on weekends. A Swedish character in the film says, 'everyone in this country drinks too much.'
But Danish drinking is on the decline. Today Danes buy half as much alcohol per person as they did twenty years ago (based on my own calculations from Denmark Statistics). In the last six years I have been at Copenhagen Business School, the university has banned drinking on campus except with special permission, and more or less eliminated Intro Week, a heavy drinking series of ice breaking events which is tradition at Danish universities.
The film is about four high school teachers who only go through the motions work, and are unsatisfied with their home lives. When the main character Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) asks his wife if he has become boring, her evasive answer tells him all he needs to know. Early in the film one of the teachers quotes Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skaaderud, that people are born with a bit too little alcohol in their blood. Martin sneaks some vodka into the school the next day, and his teaching goes much better than usual. The friends meet again, and decide to use themselves as test subjects for Skaaderud's theory.
It isn't only the characters who are intrigued with the hypothesis that alcohol can improve our lives. Thomas Vinterberg, the director and co-screen writer, is completely on board. The film is a paean to how drinking can make us more fun and more interesting. It makes the teachers more creative and braver. It reduces students' anxiety. It reignites the characters' dying romantic relationships, and strengthens their bonds with friends.
There is, of course, another side of alcohol, as the characters find out when they up their doses. Alcohol is associated with crimes of many sorts, from petty crime like vandalism to violent crimes like assault. Drunk driving makes roads less safe. We all know people whose lives have been destroyed by too much drinking. The economist and cultural critic Tyler Cowen has written that it is appalling that we drink such a dangerous substance in front of our children.
Another Round does not ignore the negative consequences of alcoholism. Later in the film, alcohol causes some serious consequences for one of the characters. But for the most part alcohol does not create problems for the characters as much as solve them. Heavy drinking is like a coming of age ceremony. Not everyone who goes through it comes out unharmed, but those that do are changed for the better. The thesis of the film, in a word, is that alcohol is good for people, most of the time.
The film is worth a view, if for nothing other than the provocative point it makes. It does not hurt that Mads Mikkelsen's performance is spectacular, as we have come to expect. So, do as the rest of the audience in the Danish movie screening I saw did, and watch the film with a beer in hand. Will drinking benefit your experience? Probably.
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