jing’s review published on Letterboxd:
Is alcohol beneficial? Is alcohol detrimental? Another Round answers neither of these questions—instead, it tries its best to offer a rounded perspective on what many consider a legal drug. At first glance, the premise is simple: Four friends decide to put a theory to the test by maintaining a constant level of alcohol in their bodies through the day, and for a while, everything seems to go well, maybe better than before, even. As time goes on, however, the initial premise develops into something much more threatening, and with additional drinking, additional problems arise.
Impeccably directed, Another Round utilizes the influence of camera movement, lighting and framing to the fullest extent. The film is heavily reliant on handheld shots from the beginning, but as the story unfolds and sips of alcohol turn into gulps, frames become more and more unsteady, culminating in a series of feverishly edited shots with scarcely lit faces and restless closeups. As a consequence, we are provided with a glimpse into the unsettling disconcertment the characters go through rather than simply witnessing their slow descent into complete inebriation.
Mads Mikkelsen’s performance as the main character is as fascinating as it is invigorating. From the dullness his character is experiencing in the beginning to the pure euphoria in the end, almost every single emotion is clearly visible on his face—and yet, his expressions leave enough ambiguity to wonder if there’s sentiments hidden inside his character, and if the cause for his sometimes dispirited appearance lies much deeper than the furrowed brows.
Despite its nearly perfect direction and outstanding performances, Another Round falls short of what it’s trying to do, at least in my view. With its attempt at marrying a character study of sorts with a full-picture perspective on alcohol, this film doesn’t manage to excel at either. Instead, it stays somewhere in the middle, occasionally skewing to the one, then to the other. This movie neither dives deep enough into the main character’s personality to be truly moving, nor does it maintain a steady pace to work as an examination of the growing role alcohol plays in the characters’ lives. Over the course of the film, it remains unclear what it’s trying to be: A story about four friends? A story about their midlife crises and marital problems? A story about a failed experiment? The movie’s goal, although evident in retrospect, remains just as unclear, making much of the first half feel unstructured and almost as far as occasionally pointless.
Looking back, what I perceived as a lack of structure and an oddly paced narrative could have been intentional and somewhat reflective of the consequences of the characters’ increasing intoxication. Sober, the world seems to move slowly, but once drunk, time seems to be flying by as a mere concept, and much like the protagonist’s life slowly gets mixed up with alcohol, so does the narrative, blending his friendships, family and his search for his identity as a man in his midlife crisis. Nonetheless, it’s currently a rather far-fetched possibility for me, and as a whole, the narrative and its intent fall short of the needed structure for me.
Sometimes unsettling, sometimes stirring, sometimes riveting, Another Round is, quite literally, an intoxicating ride. In spite of its exhilarating direction and electrifying performances, this film lacks the structure and subsequently the emotion it needs to fully convey its message: Alcohol, like many things in life, isn’t as black-and-white as it may seem at first glimpse, but instead, it’s best when it’s enjoyed in moderate and reasonable quantities. Nonetheless, as someone who can count the times they drank alcohol on one hand, I, on my part, wholeheartedly disagree.
> Little Women or North by Northwest