Don’t Try This at Home. Or at Work

Druk (Another Round, Thomas Vinterberg, 2020)

Supposedly, the Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud suggests that humans are born with a blood alcohol 0.05% too low. In this comedy, four middle aged, jaded, male teachers decide to keep drinking to ascertain what the psychological effects are and whether it improves their work and personal lives. After initial success, they increase their intake.

Central to the film is Mads Mikkelsen as Martin, teacher of history with a shift working wife and teenage sons, but there is much attention paid to Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), an aging and divorced sports teacher, Peter (Lars Ranthe), an unmarried music teacher and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang), a psychology teacher with a newish family. Initially there is much comedy to be had from Martin’s class teaching about the alcohol intake of, say, Churchill and the undoubted improvements in their lives.

Wisely, of course, the film moves into darker territory — although it never quite embraces the toxicity of masculinity which is just under the surface of the male friendships. Whilst the film doesn’t omit women, they are sidelined, with Martin’s wife Anika (Maria Bonnevie), Nikolaj’s wife Amalie (Helene Reingaard Neumann) and the school principal (Susse Wold) cast in the traditional roles of questioning pleasure, being responsible and stopping fun. We don’t get to see enough of their side of the experiment and of course the four drinkers are all men.

But undoubtedly the four leads of the cast look like they are having fun and broadly speaking we shouldn’t quite bregrudge most of them their eucatastrophe.

Apparently there is to be an American remake — although I suspect the US attitude to alcohol is rather different from the Scandinavian. It’ll be interesting to see if punches get pulled, ambiguities ironed out.


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