Karel Dolak and Lucia Zuzchetti’s editing patiently holds its gaze on sight gags and glimpses of tragedy in equal measure. And Sharrock’s “Limbo” has plenty of both. While the film slows in its second half, weighed down by representing Omar’s cultural loss in esoteric fashion, “Limbo” remains hilariously sad, and a love note to the displaced.
Not since their sinister thriller “The Hunt,” released in 2012, have long-term collaborators director Thomas Vinterberg and Mads Mikkelsen worked together. In their latest film, the latter returns in the role of a teacher. But rather than play a man falsely accused of sexually abusing his kindergarten student (as in “The Hunt”), he’s the despondent high school history teacher Martin. Once a man of vitality, Martin drudges through his life, marriage, and job with such lackluster intent that all three are near-collapse. But when he and his three fellow teachers begin drinking during class, he rediscovers an energetic part of himself he buried long. Vinterberg’s Danish-language tragicomedy “Another Round” (or “Druk”) isn’t as compelling as “The Hunt,” but its weighty theme of alcoholism, and its story of a crippling mid-life crisis, engages all the same.
Martin’s troubles begin when he attends a birthday dinner hosted by his best friend and colleague Nikolaj (Magnus Millang). A philosophy teacher, Nikolaj tells his fellow guests—soccer coach Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen) and music instructor Peter (Lars Ranthe)—about psychiatrist Finn Skårderud’s philosophy that human bodies naturally do not produce enough daily alcohol, so we must consume .05% to be healthy. To test the theory, the quartet begin day drinking in class. Martin, who studied jazz ballet 12 years ago and had a research position and PhD lined up, experiences the greatest change. He evolves from merely reading to his students from the history book to spontaneous lessons that resonate with his students. The same goes for Tommy, who instills confidence in his young soccer player derisively referred to as specs by his teammates.
Martin’s moribund marriage with Amalie (Helene Reingaard Neumann) also gets a shot in the arm. Mikkelsen delivers a physically visceral performance, as Martin first appears haggard and downtrodden, then later grooves loosely in his intoxication, and finally looks worse than how he began. His appearance alters mostly because the quartet’s boundaries change. Initially, they decided to follow Hemingway’s model: Drink only before 8pm and never during the weekends. Considering his prodigious writing talent, they think he’s the go-to. Never mind that Hemingway committed suicide by 61. But as they push the limits, and their wild antics transition from their wildly funny ribbing of each into grave danger, the disastrous consequences of their experiment become inevitable.