Mads Mikkelsen seems to have made excellent choices throughout his career. Starting off in the captivating ‘Pusher Trilogy’ directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, he went on to quickly find commercial success as a particularly sinister bond villain. His turn as the eponymous protagonist in the TV series Hannibal sustained his global reputation as a talented character actor. Recently he has stayed relevant by working in his native Denmark with Thomas Vinterberg, the co-founder of the Dogme 95 movement.
Vinterberg has directed Mikkelsen before in The Hunt, which won him a Best Actor award at Cannes Film Festival 2012. The Hunt follows a man who becomes the target of mass hysteria after being wrongly accused of sexually abusing a child in his kindergarten class. Vinterberg often deals with controversial or risky themes, a bold director who is not afraid to shock. His 1998 work Festen explores family tragedy and adheres to the striped-down rules of Dogme 95, it is a thoroughly engaging film which is sometimes difficult to watch.
Another Round won both the BAFTA for best film not in the English language, and the Oscar for best international feature. It is a deeply personal film dedicated to Vinterberg’s daughter who tragically died in a car crash just as production began. It doesn’t have the same level of poignant and controversial moments as Festen, but rather mixes profound and playful scenes in equal measure.
The film follows three bored high school teachers as they test Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud’s suggestion that the human body has an inbuilt alcohol deficiency (e.g we need a certain level of alcohol to function normally). They start to drink in small quantities at work, and initially find positive results as they become better communicators, free from anxiety. As the three friends create rules and draw up a comprehensive report, we are reminded of the strict guidelines and approach used in the Dogme 95 doctrine that defined a generation of Danish filmmakers.
The films frenetic and engaging opening with the “lake run” (a student ritual involving on-the-hoof beer drinking) hooks the audience immediately. There are several more joyous scenes throughout, I particularly enjoyed watching three middle-aged friends dance to The Meters Cissy Strut as they consume homemade cocktails, as well as Mikkelsen performing Jazz ballet among celebrating graduates. But let’s not kid ourselves, ultimately there are tragic consequences as the trio up their dosage and become more and more reliant on intoxication.
This film includes the full gamit of ups and downs that is life. Perhaps the point for all of us is to enjoy in moderation. There is no magic answer.