“Mais Uma Rodada” is a fun and bright movie about enjoying the best of life

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“Mais Uma Rodada” is a fun and bright movie about enjoying the best of life

It won the Oscar for Best International Film and premiered in Portugal this Thursday. Mads Mikkelsen is the protagonist.

Mads Mikkelsen is the protagonist.

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The last time director Thomas Vinterberg and actor Mads Mikkelsen worked together, the brilliant “The Hunt – The Hunt” was born. Eight years later, the duo came together to make “Mais Uma Rodada”, which won the Oscar for Best International Film on Sunday and opens in Portuguese cinemas this Thursday, April 29th.

The story takes place again in the Danish middle class and has teachers as protagonists. But that’s where the parallels to “The Hunt” end. Inspired by a conversation between his daughter and an American screenwriter, Vinterberg became aware of the enormous consumption of alcoholic beverages in Danish society – especially among young teenagers.

From there he built a story about a teacher who is in some kind of midlife crisis. He has lost the courage to teach and is enjoyed by the students. He’s confused about what he’s saying. He has a distant relationship with his children and his wife. He looks numb, sleepwalking as if he was going through life passively.

One day over dinner with other old teacher friends, he agreed to have a few more glasses to relax. Quickly one of them speaks of the theory of a Norwegian psychologist about the alcohol deficit that people have in their blood – allegedly a rate of 0.5 was ideal for being unrestrained and at the peak of our productivity and animation. So the four friends decide to start the experiment.

Ironically, the rule applies that they can only drink during work hours. They need to measure their blood alcohol levels to find out if they are the right level or if they need to have another glass – to “take another round”.

This somewhat surreal premise leads the four teachers to change their behavior in classrooms and in their relationships with families at home – this will inevitably lead to the film exploring the tragic problems that alcoholism can cause. There are pros and cons, but in reality this is not an alcohol film.

This is just the vehicle that tells a story about being awake and doing your best every day – because maybe we all live a bit deaf in our daily lives.

As in other films by Vinterberg – and even by other contemporary European filmmakers – “Another Round” is visually beautiful, refined and elegant. The tone is fun, even if it includes moments of deep drama. Mads Mikkelsen proves once again that although he is better known in the public as a born villain, he is a complete actor who plays the most monotonous and earthly of the characters very well.

The film also has a special side because it was marked by a personal tragedy (which was worth the most emotional Oscar speech). Thomas Vinterberg’s daughter – who inspired the script in a certain way – would take part in the film. However, a few days before the start of the recording, there was a sudden car accident.

During the worst part of his life, Thomas Vinterberg took the few powers he had and channeled them into the film his daughter wanted to make. His character was removed from the narrative, but everything else remained. The school used for the shoot was the same school her daughter attended – and many of her teenage friends appear as extras throughout the film.

Despite the originality of the story, the movie’s biggest problem is that it can hit some kind of dead end along the way. It gets the impression that the goal wasn’t to end the film with a very specific message (and we can see why), but at the same time the conclusion is a bit ambiguous and the last third of the story is not as satisfactory. Still, the last scene is liberating and kind of magical.