German Movie: PingPong

PINGPONG, directed with keen insight by Matthias Luthardt, is a sharply written film that plays like an intriguing short story. The events are interesting enough, but it is the characters that give this ultimately dark film its power.

Paul (Sebastian Urzendowsky), a handsome lad with a head full of boyish curls, has come to stay for a while with Anna (Marion Mitterhammer) and Stefan (Falk Rockstroh), who, if you listen very carefully, you will learn are his aunt and uncle. But this blood relationship is quickly mentioned only once, so that later you may have trouble deciding if Paul was actually related to them at all. What is clear is that there was recently some tragedy in Paul’s life which involved the death of a relative and some financial difficulties. These are all more alluded to, rather than spoken of, until Paul has an emotional meltdown late in the picture.

The other young man in the household is Robert (Clemens Berg), the large and nerdy piano playing son of Anna and Stefan. Once a well-known pianist, the alluring Anna is a tough teacher who demands the best out of Robert, who would rather just play ping pong with his old friend Paul and sneak big drinks of hard liquor. He’s seething with unspoken rebellion in an outwardly very tranquil household.

Paul decides to fix the derelict pool, which provides ample opportunity for the sexy Anna to look at Paul’s pecs. Of course, you can see where this part of the story is headed. But the fine acting and the intelligent writing make the resulting actions as fascinating as they are predictable. Other actions aren’t as easy to guess.

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