I like to think I am good luck for my interviewees. Nicole Beharie won the Gotham Award two days after our interview. Diane Warren and Laura Pausini won the Golden Globe the day before our interview. The next recipient was Another Round’s Thomas Vinterberg, nominated for the David Lean Award (Best Director) at the BAFTAs. The film itself was also nominated for three other awards.
Vinterberg’s film is one I can’t stop thinking about. No film has bravely and honestly tackled the topic of alcohol use in this manner. During our conversation, we talked about the way in which Vinterberg along with co-writer Tobias Lindholm worked to ensure to make a film that did not delve into moralistic lessons. Rather, it focuses on men at this stage in life who are working to untether and move away from all the various barriers that control their life.
Another Round hits every genre, and therein lies the brilliance of this film. There are moments when you are laughing with these four men, times when you feel their pain, times when you dance with these men, and then some moments where you get to have tender and heartfelt life lessons. The film made me think a lot about the relationship people have with alcohol and the way age plays a factor into this journey. The film helps you posit your own connections, and really is a personal story that allows you to build your own relationship. Thomas and I could have talked for hours about consumption, different countries’ relationship to consumption, masculinity, and even the term “mid-life crisis” (which I am not a huge fan of). Check out our conversation below.
Awards Daily: The film is already a highly talked about film. Winning critics prizes. Short Listed at BAFTA for Best Film, and cited as one of the best endings of all time by Vulture. How has this experience felt?
Thomas Vinterberg: The ending to a film can be such a crucial element. I remember when there were still video stores, and you would walk around and the common phrases or questions you would hear people ask are who is in the film, and how does it end. These two pieces are something I always think about.
Professionally it’s been extraordinary. If you watch the movie closely, it’s so many different genres. It’s silly. It’s tender. Every time we tried to structure this, we killed the film. The film needed to be untamable. It needed to be drunk, if you will. It was fear provoking because we like to control things. Artistically, it was a very interesting challenge, and I loved working with everyone on board. The four actors tore out their hearts for this film, and I will forever be thankful for the work they put into this film.
This also comes from a time in my life where I ran into a catastrophe. We all ended up very raw and naked. We felt defenseless. That has become part of this film and part of the film I love dearly. My life is a little bit like the end scene. It’s a beautiful catastrophe. All the praise it’s getting is honoring my daughters memory and providing deep meaning success.
AD: How did this story come about and evolve for you?
TV: It’s a strange thing. I had to steer away from anything that felt intentional. This film came from a lot of digging. I started at 13, and Tobias Lindholm and I wanted to make a pure celebration of alcohol. This thing is, liquor, not only elevates people but also kills people, so we had to find a balance in the way we told this story. We very quickly decided to make a non-moralistic serving of this phenomenon of this thing called drinking. What came out of this was a film that is life affirming. It’s a film about putting your life at risk, and making sure that your life becomes an exploration.
My wife told me what this film is about. The film is about the uncontrollable. Falling in love means you are out of control. You can’t train to this. The feeling is just something that is there. It’s challenging to make a film about the uncontrollable when you are in a society where everything is studied and measured. You will be told how many clicks or likes this article gets, and that is just one example of how we as a society measure the work we do. This happens in almost every piece of our life. We are constantly taking part in life events, etc., where every element is measured. There is a need to let go of all these things. My movie is a battle for control or being able to lose control.
The question is, can we do this without alcohol. Writing a script, directing, acting is about forgetting yourself. That is what you do when you drink. I have to put myself in this space. I do not think you need to drink to be inspired. We need to explore ourselves and see how we can inspire a journey into our world without some of these control elements.
A lot of people have asked me, ‘Why do you folks drink so much?’ We have some records with young folks and drinking in our country. Instead of looking at how much they drink, we have to look at why they drink. In surveys people will be asked do you find yourself good looking or successful and 70 and 85. I think we need to explore these elements of psychology which play a role in how much people consume, and why they consume. There are so many complex elements to this subject and we wanted to explore this within our film.
AD: I have never seen a film tackle alcohol use with this level of nuance. How did you navigate the character’s alcohol use without the “lesson?”
TV: Together with Tobias Lindholm, we decided this from the beginning. We had someone dying, someone dancing. We always kept a balance in the story. We did not have a hidden message. Who are to tell people how to drink or live. They would have to ask my wife who is a priest about that topic. I am a director. It’s my job to investigate people’s relationships with alcohol.
This film has been massive at the box office in our country. We have youngsters with a bag of beer running to see this film a hundred times and folks who are in AA who think it is about them. We tried to look at the four guys who were looking to lose control or escape their lives and explore it in the space of alcohol use.
AD: I hate the term “mid life crisis” and some could use that as a term to define the exploration these men are undergoing in this film. I think this film is more about traditional masculinity and these men exploring their understanding of themselves later in life. Describe how you formed this?
TV: These guys have come to a stand still in their life. They are surrounded by weightless immortal youngsters. They have come to a place where life is no longer a challenge. They are experiencing mediocrity, or the set up for happiness in what others define for them.
We felt if they had to be inspired by alcohol. They had to be in a place where a lot of people my age find themselves. I find that these men are very lonely. It’s about togetherness with men. Alcohol brings people together. I do not know how many married people have met each other sober. Alcohol breaks down boundaries, and creates the feeling of togetherness. My hope is that people see this as a way they can explore their own lives.
AD: You have done a couple films with Mads Mikkelsen. What has it been like to form that director/actor relationship for him, and did it evolve for this film?
TV: It was a win/win/win situation with Mads. He is a great friend of mine. He is a really great actor. He is also a great friend of the other actors in the film, and they are all great friends of mine. This is what I needed from this particular film. I really challenged them. They have to defend tiny fragile journeys. They have to be silly without being too silly. They have to be moving and be drunk on top of all of that. I needed four huge canons for this. All of the actors in this film are huge cannons. To make them play drunk, we had a rehearsal for this. We would have them drink and tape. It was a great journey for us, and we wanted this to be authentic on film.
AD: Any key takeaways you want people to have from this film?
TV: We need to watch people who hug and share a bottle.