Shortly after the experiment begins, Vinterberg stages a scene in Martin’s classroom, where he’s engaging with his students in a way he clearly hasn’t in years. He’s getting them involved with vibrant conversation and new ways to look at history. He’s smiling in that very Mads way. What’s brilliant about the scene is how Vinterberg and cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen replicate that slightly wobbly feeling that comes after just a strong drink or two. Martin is nowhere near blacking out or doing anything embarrassing, but the slightly unsteady camera swoops in for a close-up and then back out again in the inconsistent way that the world sometimes does after a couple glasses of wine—the filmmaking coming to life like how Martin is with his new buzz on life. It’s indicative of the high craft on display here as the visual language subtly matches the character’s journey.
Martin’s colleagues (Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, & Lars Ranthe—all effective) find similar success, at least at first. A music teacher encourages his students to sing more with their hearts and souls; a philosophy teacher catches onto the anxiety of one of his students in a way he may not have given his previously detached approach. Then the quartet starts to change the terms of the experiment, which everyone knows is a bad idea. If 0.05% works so well for Martin that he feels better even when he’s sober, maybe he should go higher? They start pushing the envelope. Absinthe gets involved. As anyone who has tried it can tell you, Absinthe is almost always a bad idea. Trust me.
“Another Round” reaches beyond its set-up when it becomes a study in individuality. The experiment affects each of the four men differently, and everyone knows that a drunk night comes with a hungover morning. A student near the end gives an exam on the Kierkegaardian philosophies on anxiety and accepting fallibility and failure, which is what all midlife crisis films are about to a certain degree—coming to terms with mistakes after you realize you may be running out of time to correct them.