Another Round is about a quest to understand what is sensible and what is irrational. Everyone has the idea of a perfect life in mind. We all want to live that utopian life. Youth often makes us believe that we can overlook all the pits and lead an idealistic life. Inexperience makes us those boffins who know nothing but still assume a great deal. Age often shatters these assumptions. We become unarmed, only because we prepared for the sunshine but not for the murk. If it was possible to theoretically jot down the points of an ideal life then everyone would have a perfect life. It is impossible to be human and not err. That lacuna of uncertainty which nobody knows how to deal with, account for, what we know as, an unbridled life.
Sometimes life might become a pile on. It might get difficult to break the monotony. Where do you find new reasons to get happy when you feel that everything has been experienced and you know that things are just going to be a repetition of what has already happened. You start taking things for granted, stop enjoying the process that you once fondly chose and just close all doors for further explorations. Things become difficult not only for you but for all those who are around you. We stop seeing, stop experiencing, stop feeling and finally stop living. Nothing seems worth it.
But the most astounding fact about life is that only if you wear shades of different tint and perspective, things take a U-turn, a sort of reverse osmosis happens, the bland ingredients are segregated from the spicy ones and once again you have the power to make a choice.
Another Round directed by Thomas Vinterberg, is a Swedish/Danish drama. The screenplay has been written by Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg. The film makes use of some excellent music by Mikkel Maltha which adds that necessary tinge of dramatization.
‘Another Round’ Summary
Martin, Tommy, Nikolaj and Peter are four friends teaching in a high school. Apart from their bond of friendship, they share a lack of enthusiasm towards their professional as well as personal life. They just seem to not find the motivation, to do anything. They seem to just pass time without any hope that an event would bring any sort of thrill or inspiration in their mundane routines.
On Nikolaj’s birthday dinner old wounds open and the suppressed restlessness and claustrophobia surfaces. Once again an effort is made to heal those wounds. They decide to test the dubious theory of a psychiatrist named Finn Skårderud, who once said that,
“Human beings are born with a blood alcohol level that is 0.05 per cent too less.”
They decide to maintain that level of alcohol throughout the day and see if it is bringing about a change. All four of them find their footing and regain the lost enthusiasm. They become more involved in their day to day affairs, may that be paying more attention towards the students, finding innovative ways to enhance their understanding or showing an intent to rebuild the long lost bonds. But as it always happens, they start depending upon the alcohol to an extent where they enter into oblivion. They string the chords that should have not been touched. Excess makes you do things in passion. Things that a prudent man would never do. It leads you to a path where you just loose those who once formed the foundation of what you are today.
Martin loses his family and Nikolaj just makes a mockery out of himself. They embarrass themselves in front of their family. Tommy just loses complete balance, with no real motivation to keep him under check. He sees no point in continuing. He looses the essence of life amidst all the strife. One day he comes to the school heavily intoxicated. It is that very evening that he realises that it is about time. He gives up on that bleak of hope that once seemed so promising.
It was never about life or death. It was in the details that Tommy lost the battle. But his death gave a new perspective to his friends, a sort of enlightenment, a necessary trigger to live this temporary and fragile thing we call “life.”
We would misconstrue the intentions of the filmmaker if we deemed this film to be on the subject of alcoholism. Yes, there is a lot of talking about alcohol per se, it’s consumption and it’s an effect in the narrative.
But if you closely see the Another Round serves as a catharsis. Alcohol has just been used as a prop to prove the point. The film is more about repressed emotions and its release. Feelings and emotions are like water, if it stays stagnant for long then it turns toxic.
Martin knows that he is no longer the teacher he used to be. When he joined the school, he was an enterprising individual with an imagination. The classes became banal and slowly all joy seemed to be lost. He lacked confidence and became less driven every passing day. The resurgence we see in the end is a Catharsis resulting from a series of traumatic events. They hit the rock bottom and there was no place to go other than going ashore.
The Little Things
Thomas Vinterberg makes you realise that life is not going to give you a gigantic reason/purpose to keep moving forward. It is in the little things that happiness truly resides. The joy of living does not mean that you will never fail. It is about accepting those failures and loving the process despite all the struggle.
Tommy’s death served as a means through which Martin, Nikolaj and Peter are emancipated from the banality they got stuck into. They learn to do the most difficult task of this world i.e to unlearn whatever they had learnt and start afresh. They started appreciating the present and relieved themselves from a mechanical loop.
“We are all apprentice in a craft where no one ever becomes the master”– ERNEST HEMINGWAY
There is no hard and fast rule to which a person should stick for leading an ideal life. It’s a process of hit and trial. But taking responsibility for your actions is what matters. Escapism leads to a domino effect and there is no end to it. You can keep blaming others but it wouldn’t solve anything.
Martin was never the “half”, he was supposed to be in his marriage. Anika, his wife, is oblivious to his presence, but she can’t be completely blamed. Martin just stopped trying. He let things be as if it didn’t concern him. Nikolaj too ran away from his responsibilities never taking the initiative or being a support system that his wife desperately needed. Peter didn’t know that being a teacher how will he make his work immortal when the system itself isn’t respectful towards a high school teacher. But the fact is all of them aren’t doing anything about their problems. They just sit and watch the actions of others shape their life.
“To dare is to lose one’s footing but to not dare is to lose oneself.”
Another Round is very beautifully crafted which will stir the insides of you. The cast together will leave you enchanted by their performances. It will leave you in splits whenever you will see the friends talking about their hypothesis and having a good time. The structure of the scenes looks so organic that it is hard to believe that the whole thing was scripted.
It is a mature film talking about issues that need a great deal of experience just to be identifiable. After watching you might realize that there was no inherent meaning to anything but the only truth lied in the absurdity of events. Maybe we should stop seeking what’s sensible and live a little.
Another Round is streaming on Hulu.
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