Thomas Vinterberg (director)
02 July 2021 (released)
04 July 2021
Middle age and booze can be tricky. You think to you have a handle on it, know your limits and can drink safely. All too often the reality is that it has the upper hand and without knowing it your out of control, and in its.
Final Round has something of that about it although it goes much deeper than a few drinks and hangovers. Trudging along on life’s treadmill four friends Martin (Mads Mikkelson), Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) and Peter (Lars Ranthe) are at various stages unsatisfied with life they decide to embark on an experiment that tests Norwegian psychologist Finn Skårderud’s theories that man is born with a 0.5 blood alcohol level shortfall.
The experiment in three parts sees the men imbibe during school hours to top up with the effect that it grants them, so they think, some freedoms. The four men, all teachers, at first under pseudo lab conditions monitor their intake. And to start with the results are good. There’s a freshness to their approach to work, better results and deeper connection to the pupils.
But as the experiment proceeds and the quantities increase so flaws are exposed and the full ferocity of the demon is unleashed. That comes will come as no surprise. A film that while clearly celebrating the liberation and joy of drink can’t avoid the pit that it can create.
Thomas Vinterberg’s latest is on the one hand an absurd black comedy with an anarchic air as four men who should know better, basically reverting to their youth at its most experimental. Living relatively comfortable lives has, in their minds, robbed them of what they had, rather than they now having much pride in what they have achieved.
But a darker story develops that maybe things just run their course, and the best option is to just move on and look forward. As tantalizing as the experiment started out, possibly offering some enlightenment, the reality is a bleaker and maybe some things should just be left where they are.
Mikkleson is mesmerizing here as he hits the highs and lows of the experiment taking the results as they come. However this is far more of an ensemble cast than maybe the posters would have us think with the four leads having solid characters to work with leading to perfect interaction between them.
This film does tread a fine line. Much of it is clearly celebratory of alcohol and what fun it can be to get sloshed, flying in the face of modern convention and may well get some peoples backs up. It doesn’t avoid the consequences of excess but it is more complex than just simply presenting for the sake of balance. This film is about life; with its checks and balances, with the choices that people make good or bad, they all intertwine: it’s to be reveled in.