This British documentary hones in on some compelling characters who are making their ways to Inner Mongolia to play in the over-eighty division of the World Table Tennis Championships.
The oldest is Dorothy, who is a hundred and lives in Australia. She just enjoys the competition and is welcomed as a celebrity in ping pong-mad China. Other players are out for gold. Lisa is a Texan originally from Austria with a much younger husband, a ping pong coach, a room full of trophies and a killer instinct. One German player has used the sport to cure herself of dementia and is surprised to actually be a top competitor. Rune, a Swedish champion, rues the fact with his typical understated humour that he always has to face off against Les D'Arcy, the amazingly fit eighty-nine-year-old UK champ.
This film is truly a crowd-pleaser in the tradition of Spellbound, the wonderful film about American kids competing in the Spelling Bee. The stories here are inspiring and the characters chosen bring so many angles of the human condition into focus. I just hope to be this good at anything if I'm lucky to make it to such a ripe old age.
Ping Pong played recently at the Vancity Theatre in Vancouver.