Tag Archives: Alcoholism

Another Round

7 Dec

‘Another Round’: Four stifled schoolteachers plunge into alcohol as a lifestyle, sink or swim

By Tom Meek
Thursday, December 3, 2020

Thomas Vinterberg’s “Another Round” is a dark contemplation flipping between the glorification and pitfalls of routine alcohol consumption. The film begins with teens partaking in a keg relay race around a lake and, later, in their buzzed post-race state, making something of a nuisance of themselves on the subway. The matter is subsequently taken up by the faculty at the intimate Danish academy they attend. Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), one of those teachers, listens intently, as he has teenagers at home as well. But one night, out for dinner and drinks with three fellow faculty to celebrate a 40th birthday, , there’s a moment of pause over Norwegian psychologist Finn Skårderund’s obscure hypothesis that humans need booze to thrive. Intoxicated by the idea, the four make a pact to nip at school to see how Skårderund’s suggestion changes their lives, amended by the caveat that, like Hemingway, there will be no late-night boozing or weekend benders. As a result, Martin becomes increasingly distant from his family, especially his wife (Maria Bonnevie) who works at night; but in the classroom, his lack of inhibition allows him to break out and connect with youthful charges who revel in raucous history lessons focusing on notorious suds-sucking world leaders such as Winston Churchill and FDR taking on a, he notes, a teetotaling Adolf Hitler.

As you can guess, there’s a buoyant swell of wins before some major downs. One of the four gets so knackered he wets the bed and blames it on his 2-year-old, let alone not being able to find his legs to get off the floor and to go to school. In another scene, another of the four give emboldening nips of vodka to a nervous student on the verge of failing an oral exam. Vinterberg, who teamed up with Mikkelsen for “The Hunt” in 2012 – something akin to a Danish “Straw Dogs” (1974) – keeps much of the judgment off frame. Mikkelsen, whom most Americans probably know for his go as a Bond villain in “Casino Royale” (2006) or Hannibal Lecter in the underappreciated TV series “Hannibal,” gives his best performance to date, awards-worthy in Danish or English. Many might not know that Mikkelsen was a dancer by trade early on, and the skill is put to glorious use in the final scene, a surprise in its own right considering the nadir it springs from. The final 10 minutes of the film are unforgettable, uncannily ebullient and hauntingly disturbing.


26 May


They were on their way to buy wine and cheese and pick out a movie at the video store. It was his first time meeting her parents and he wanted to impress them even though she had said they were the cause of all her problems. He didn’t know what her problems were; she was tall, angular and adored. He had worked hard to gain her favor after they met on a whitewater rafting trip. He took her to arty movies that he thought were like the ones he had heard her talk about and cooked her the kind of dishes he saw in the magazines on her coffee table. She took him camping and skydiving and they made love in the woods on moss covered logs and rocky outcroppings overlooking the city.

“Alcoholics and liars,” is how she described her parents. He expected horrible people, but they were nice and welcoming during the brief five minutes they popped in to drop off their bags. “Maureen says you have great taste in movies,” her mother said giving his arm a gentle squeeze, “Why don’t you pick something out for us.”

They sailed down a country road past artfully masoned walls and immaculate lawns. There wasn’t a rogue leaf anywhere.

“Here! Here!” she said tapping on the dashboard frantically. “Turn here!”

He swerved hard right, the font wheel left a muddy rut across one of the manicured lawns. The Corolla skidded back onto the road and righted itself.

She tugged on his sleeve. “See that house up there?”

Up a long rolling lawn dotted with boulders sat a large stucco structure.

“A murder happened there, about three years ago. A doctor and his wife, who had just moved here from India, got hacked up by their own meat cleaver.”

“God that’s grim,” he said, “I hope they got the guy.”

“They did, but they shouldn’t have,” she said explaining that a boy she knew from school who grew up in the house and was abused by his alcoholic father, had gotten drunk and broke into the house. “They couldn’t figure it out for a long time,” she said, “but he was trying to get clean and said something at an AA meeting and somebody went to the police.”

“Sounds like they did the right thing.”

She slapped the dashboard. “That’s not the the point, godammit!”

“Okay, then what is?”

“AA’s all about recovery and having a system of trust. They violated that trust. It was wrong.”

“C’mon, Mo, it’s not like attorney-client or anything like that.”

“He was getting help, he was finally clean.”

“What are you saying? That his recovery is more important than their lives? That it justifies murder?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Well, then, what?”

She slumped hard against the passenger door. “You just don’t get it, do you?”

The Corolla crested another hill. Below he could see the neon blue from the video store. He wondered what he should pick. He knew he had to choose wisely.



(published May ’19 in Everyday Fiction)