WHAT I LIKED: Thomas Vinterberg's 'Another Round,' is a film about a teacher and father called Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) who feels so bored by his banal life that he decides to let go and find some joy and zest for life by drinking during the days alongside his friends.
That premise naturally brings up a lot of extremely negative connotations; at very least the famous "midlife crisis," and at worst some pretty troubling, dependant relationships with alcohol.
But the film doesn't just embrace the tragedy of these characters feeling alive exclusively when intoxicated, it strangely begins by focusing a surprising amount on the positive effects of alcohol too.
Most of these men start the film pretty down and generally disinterested, but once they start drinking, they openly find passion in their teaching, their relationships and their home lives, and become more exuberant, joyous and happy as a result. That's a wonderful thing on the surface, and the film can thus be seen as a celebration of what being slightly drunk can do for a person on one hand, and that's emphasised by the fact it so frequently lingers on their happy, excited faces.
But really, all of that is extremely uncomfortable to watch because the group are clearly and inevitably dependent on alcohol, and that's where the brilliantly nuanced, tragic performances come into play. You feel for these characters even when they're having fun, and in the end they're inevitably forced to accept the problem with what they're doing, and that's when it really hits home because they're back to square one; struggling to enjoy their lives and feeling nothing but emptiness without the void that their drunken states filled.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The moments where the film is openly celebrating the effects of alcohol do feel quite uncomfortable when you know the reason it's ultimately being consumed. Aside from that though, this is one of those films where the character arcs are pretty clear from the start, and many scenes feel somewhat perfunctory as a result. Once we've seen the positive effect of the alcohol and the group's attempts to justify their consumption, the film largely consists of them repeatedly doing those things until they come to their inevitable realisations.
My main issue with the film isn't any of that though; it's that once they have stopped drinking and they're back in that void, not one of them is offered a compelling alternative way to find that zest for life again. That leaves it a film with an extremely cynical worldview with an utterly tragic conclusion.
VERDICT: 'Another Round,' sees a group of men drink themselves to life, then lose that life again when they stop. That makes it perhaps the most tragic - and cynical - film that I've seen all year.