Eye For Film >> Movies >> The King Of Ping Pong (2008) Film Review
The King Of Ping Pong
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
The best elements of Jens Jonsson’s offbeat rites-of-passage film, channel the spirit of My Life As A Dog – although an unevenness of tone, which sees it veer between black comedy and a much deeper darkness, means it never reaches the heights of Lasse Hallstrom’s drama.
Rille (Jery Johansson) is the fattest kid on the block – but he has a quiet stoicism and gentle humour, flexing his authority in the local youth club, where he is the eponymous king of ping pong. He takes his job so seriously that he has the key to the locker where the bats are kept around his neck at all times. He also has a pretty good relationship with little brother Eric (Hampus Johansson, no relation), who is as lithe and popular as Rille is round and proud of his outsider status.
They are fairly typical siblings, living at home with their mum (Ann Sofi-Nurmi) and doting on their absentee – and alcoholic – father whenever he deigns to grace them with his presence. But when questions begin to arise about mum’s bit on the side (Frederik Nilsson) the stage is set for trouble at home.
What begins as an amusingly dysfunctional take on the coming-of-age drama – with Rille doing the best he can in difficult circumstances – founders when the tone switches to something much darker.
The washed out colour palette of the snow is nicely used to add to the feeling of estrangement and emptiness at the relevant moments and the scenes of sibling rivalry early in the film have a down-to-earth humour and a ring of truth. The acting by Jerry Johansson, in particular, is excellent. The film, however, can’t take the gear shift between the ambling and amiable first hour or so to the melodramatic, heavy-handed and, frankly, hard to believe final third. Still, as his first venture into feature-length fare, Jonsson’s film shows a lot of promise. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here.Reviewed on: 10 Apr 2008
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