The initial situation in Thomas Vinterberg's “Der Rausch” seems like an experimental arrangement, devised on a boozy evening: a group of medieval men, all of whom are teachers, come to a Norwegian thesis over dinner in a dignified atmosphere and a glass or two of wine To speak to psychiatrist Finn Skårderud.
According to the, people are born with 0.5 per mille too little in their blood, which makes them less musically and openly than would be possible and yet desirable.
The idea fell on fertile ground with those present. All of them, like their lives, have lost their radiance, at best they function professionally and privately, move in orderly channels, in which the only conceivable surprise would be disintegration, chaos. The history teacher Martin in particular, played by Mads Mikkelsen, is in a real crisis and is not only confronted with a horde of parents who question his function as a teacher on behalf of the children.
Even in the marriage with his wife Anika (Maria Bonnevie) people live past each other and the conversations come to a standstill.
You feel the sadness, the stepping on the spot, which actually only waits for a redeeming disturbance from the outside.
As a result, Martin grabs the bottle in the school loo, inspired by the thoughts of the previous night, and finds that the systematic intoxication actually opens him up to the world.
With a constant level
With a new ease and inspired by the sometimes necessary assertiveness, he can win his students back over to the lessons.
They take a liking to his new appearance, and Martin himself seems a little surprised by the pedagogical fire and passion that still slumbered in him.
The colleagues from the previous evening got wind of the matter, because Martin, a disadvantage of the whole thing, can no longer drive a car and needs one of them as a driver.
Shortly afterwards, the others eagerly listen to Martin's account of his experience and agree to do the same.
They too go to work a little later, spurred on by the intoxication and with renewed vigor, and it is decided to carry on with the whole thing for the time being, but to introduce some rules for the controlled use of alcohol.
Drink only during the day.
Like Hemingway, you still think you're in great footprints.
Intoxication under laboratory conditions
In addition, it was agreed to write a scientific essay about the experiment so that the procedure would be relieved of simple, trivial stupidity. You want yourself - who doesn't know it? - Examine for changes in verbal-motoric and psycho-rhetorical skills under the influence of alcohol. The alcohol limits are gradually increased later, an attempt within an attempt, and you always follow the whole thing with the gaze of the participating observer.
In terms of image technology, Vinterberg is so oriented towards his roots in the Dogma film that it works towards immersion, reminiscence-like. The camera, which is always slightly shaky, lets you take part in the action from the start, but it is not as dominant as an aesthetic element as it was in “Das Fest”. Everything is told in a wonderfully calm manner, the dialogues are subtle and carried by comedy that flashes again and again. For example, when Martin wants to know from his wife Anika whether she finds him boring, and she can only answer with a counter question: Compared to what?
The ambiguity, the tragedy slumbering in the comedy, which drinking, just as it is depicted here, deliberately and secretly in the sphere of work, in the performance of duty, charges the whole thing with tension. People also drink quickly during lessons on the sports field, in the music room, while the children - of course - please close your eyes briefly to focus on the ear while singing traditional Danish songs, and ultimately also quite unabashedly during the teachers' meeting. From the thermos bottle and already visibly listed. The receipt doesn't come right away, but it does.
Because, of course, systematic drinking can only go wrong in the long run, and one is relentlessly shown the suffering that is just as inherent in intoxication as the short-term exhilaration of delimitation that makes it so promising for the protagonists in their midlife crisis. The balance is consistently successful because, atypical these days, the temptation to cover the whole thing over unnecessarily dramatically is resisted, which only creates immediate proximity to the action.
No didactic message stands in the way, and no hint wants to show you the mental path. The realistic image is powerful enough. No overlaying dichotomy of right and wrong takes back what one has experienced up to then: that luck and potential misery are sometimes interwoven. The joy and the liberating moments that the friends experience through intoxication are neither idealized nor, in the face of their downsides, only declared as a misstep or weakness.
This is held up to the brilliant final scene, which is completely dedicated to the moment, accompanied by the song "What a Life" by Scarlet Pleasure, which leaves you with feelings of the most beautiful present, but also with the uncertainty about Martin's future. The intoxication remains an open sphere. For this he is described here in a multifaceted way. The sobriety in the portrayal, especially of the dark scenes, is good for the whole thing - the refusal to dissolve things on either side.