Another Round: "A lesson in despair"
The pop of champagne, an ice cold beer, and a refreshing espresso martini signal a time for celebrations. Alcoholic drinks, of themselves, are innocuous. They are drunk to celebrate births, graduations, anniversaries and job promotions.
Alcoholic drinks are definitely not associated with educational policies developed by curriculum authorities, education departments and schools. Yet that is exactly the premise behind Another Round.
School teachers Martin, Nikolaj, Tommy and Peter teach History, Psychology, PE and Music to junior and senior high school students. The problem is that they have lost their passion for teaching. They are uninspired and outright boring. They lack self-confidence and joy. The students and their parents confront these teachers about their lack of engagement with their teaching subjects and the lacklustre delivery of their lessons.
Martin, Nikolaj, Tommy and Peter decide upon a solution. They resolve to adopt the thinking of Swedish philosopher Finn Skårderud, who believes that humans have a blood alcohol level that is .05 lower than it should be.
You heard correctly. Their solution to supercharging their teaching is to increase their blood alcohol levels by .05. They intend to teach while inebriated. They call it an experiment. They will ingest alcohol, only during daylight hours, while they are at school and teaching to gain "optimal professional and social performance".
Red wine and vodka reignites their teaching. Their students love it. At times, they even provide a sip for students who are stressed by exam preparations. The senior students are equally complicit in consuming vast amounts of alcohol when they engage in an alcohol infused version of orienteering.
That is certainly a troublesome scenario.
The teachers decide that if .05 makes them feel reinvigorated, then .07, .09 and 1.0 must be even better.
Their experiment with alcohol follows the trajectory of alcohol’s affects on a person’s emotions, inhibitions and behaviour. Initially, teaching, while fuelled by alcohol, results in a resounding success. The students’ interest is piqued; their teaching methods are dynamic.
This extends to Martin, Nikolaj, Tommy and Peter’s personal lives. However, they are moving to alcoholic oblivion and beyond. They spiral downwards in their alcohol impaired thinking and physical awkwardness. Interpersonal relations with wives, children, students and fellow teachers become strained. Their fallibility as humans is exposed.
Martin’s missed chance at achieving a university grant is consumed by his family commitments. His teaching malaise extends to his intimate connection with his partner, Anika.
As happens when you consume more and more drinks, one’s confidence and outgoing nature descends into obnoxiousness and lack of control. Martin’s behaviour is erratic and aggressive. Things fall apart. Life unravels. The drinking experiment fails.
Beyond the emotional and psychological damage inflicted by Martin, Nikolaj, Tommy and Peter, there are hints at the social implications of the nation’s excessive drinking, when Anika at one stage says that the entire country drinks to excess.
The light-hearted side of alcohol abuse in Another Round hides the real world implication on a person’s health and personal relationships.
Rather than the focus being on alcohol, Martin, Nikolaj, Tommy and Peter’s alcohol consumption is a key that unlocks and unravels the fabric of their personal lives. The uninspired nature of their personalities is stripped to the core.
Martin, Nikolaj, Tommy and Peter realise they have become alcoholics. They stop the experiment to prevent further damage, but not until there are tragic consequences.
Yet, despite the deep tragedy, Martin, along with his senior students, decides to celebrate the successful completion of their exams by celebrating with copious consumption of alcohol. The lessons haven't been learned.
The powerful and distressful performances, particularly by Mads Mikkelsen (Martin), provide a counterpoint to his and Nikolaj, Tommy and Peter’s colleagues’ lack of ability to recognise their inebriated state. Surely, the odour of alcohol on their breathe would be a tell-tale sign, regardless of how many fresh breathe mints they consume. And their alcohol addled lack of physical coordination, including walking into doors, and their sudden, renewed vigour and enthusiasm for teaching should have made their fellow teachers suspicious.
We first think we need to accept and almost overlook their behaviour because the alcohol is the catalyst for their professional, personal and emotional inadequacies.
However, starting as an experiment about alcohol use and abuse, Another Round exposes the undercurrent and social ramifications of excessive alcohol consumption, domestic distress, and unleashed emotional fury.
And let’s be clear, there’s no way that drinking while teaching is ever going to be an accepted educational practice.
Another Round (2020)
(Danish/Swedish with subtitles)
Limited screenings at selected theatres. Available to stream on Apple TV+, Amazon, Google Play, VUDU, YouTube and Fandangonow.
Academy Award 2021
Best International Feature Film
FILM EXTRAS | Drink, Drank, Drunk
Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) is a rising young public relations executive when he meets secretary Kirsten Arnesen (Lee Remick) at a business party. Joe and Kirsten are both ambitious, and they are on the road to success when they fall in love and marry. Joe coaxes Kirsten to begin drinking with him on a regular basis. Eventually, they are both dependent on alcohol. Their marriage deteriorates, and their lives spiral into disaster.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
History professor George (Richard Burton) and his wife, Martha (Elizabeth Taylor), return late one Saturday night from a cocktail party at the home of the college president, Martha's father. Martha announces that she invited another couple, newly appointed instructor Nick (George Segal) and his timid wife, Honey (Sandy Dennis), over for a nightcap. When the younger couple arrive, the night erupts into a no-holds-barred, alcohol-fuelled torrent of marital angst and verbal tirades.
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Adapted from the novel by John O'Brien, this acclaimed drama follows alcoholic screenwriter Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage) as he drinks himself into oblivion in Las Vegas. When Ben meets the beautiful prostitute Sera (Elisabeth Shue), they strike up an unconventional relationship -- one where she can't ask him to curb his drinking, and he can't fault her for her job. Though they offer each other support, Ben's self-destruction threatens to eclipse their bond.
"Cage, who won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award for his performance, said there were some scenes he shot while "completely hammered" because he wanted to be as "credible" as possible (femalefirst.co.uk)"
Nicolas Cage hired a drinking coach, who, when Cage asked him how to act drunk, supposedly told him most actors tried to act drunk, but the secret to acting as an alcoholic is that an alcoholic tries to act sober.
Cat Ballou (1965)
When hired gun Tim Strawn (Lee Marvin) kills her rancher father, Cat Ballou (Jane Fonda) becomes an outlaw set on vengeance. Enlisting the help of washed-up gunslinger Kid Shelleen (also Marvin), Cat strikes back at the land-development company that employed Strawn.
Adding to the lively comic mood of the film are narrative song performances by Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye.
And Kid Shelleen and his drunk horse are a hangover waiting to happen.