I’m not really sure where to start.
A quartet of washed up, middle aged school teachers decide to conduct an experiment.
The film starts with what I can only assume is a common Denmark drinking game. Two people grab a crate of beer and begin running around a lake. At each bench, they are to down a bottle of beer and keep going. Penalties if you vomit. But, if I understood correctly, the penalty is waived if you and your partner both vomit.
On a whim, the four men discuss the theory posited by Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud, that a blood alcohol level of 0.05% will make one more creative and relaxed. After an emergency meeting held for Martin, played by Mads Mikkelsen, in which his students and their parents express concerns that they are not learning anything in his class, and thus at risk of not passing their graduation exams.
Thus begins the illconceived psych experiment by four middle aged men to see if drinking alcohol increases their performance.
One can see where this might go. And obviously there is so much wrong with this idea. But in the name of Churchill, and Hemmingway, is there something to alcohol and brilliance? And as ridiculous as it sounds, it really was a well done film. The director, Thomas Vinterberg, known for films you probably haven’t heard of, has been nominated for the Oscar for Best Director.
While the film seems like it is going to be jokes and drunken ridiculousness, and indeed there were some wonderful drunken scenes, it is also a serious film. It isn’t shy about showing how alcohol and alcoholism can be destructive when not under control.
But honestly, the greatest thing I think I took away from this film was: I wish I had graduated high school in Denmark.