My notes on A Young Man With High Potential
Here’s a film about a guy who doesn’t know what to do with a woman’s body. In several senses. Directed by Linus de Paoli, who scripted with Anna de Paoli, it bills itself as ‘made in the EU’, with an EU flag flying over a grey German campus dorm, key actors from various territories and a sense of Europaranoia thrumming under all exchanges and relationships (a key moment involves a supporting character’s dodgy visa status). It treads into uncomfortable areas, and risks being yet another sensitive, understanding portrait of an unhappy, confused guy who gets into a bad situation – while viewing the unlucky woman in his life as an object and fantasy barely more solid than the online interactive porno starlet who is his usual main female relationship. This is a story I usually find wearisome and hectoring, but here the self-pity is played down and in its chilliness – slightly reminiscent of that krauthorror gem Trance – it doesn’t let its protagonist off the hook.
Ketura Stantz (Amanda Plummer), an ambiguous investigator, visits Piet Carnell (Adam Ild Rohweder), a genius-level geek who co-wrote a paper on a ‘ghost machine’ with Klara (Paulina Galazka), a girl who has gone missing. In flashbacks, we see the ups and downs of the relationship between self-declared unfuckable Piet and a girl who agrees with him about that but genuinely likes him anyway – and go through a long, dark, gruesome night of transgression, crime and cover-up. Understated is the fact that the ordeal, which involves a great deal of guilt-making business, has nudged Piet out of his shut-in, online porn, sushi-delivered-to-the-door, glumly friendless, socially gauche rut … the fellow Ketura gently interrogates is in much better shape than the wealthy sad sack Klara gets involved with. It segues from quiet, well-observed, creepy studies of Piet in his pristine flat to messier, suspenseful business that verges on gruesome farce – with a night-time trip through the woods with unwieldy parcels which is at once tragic and grimly comical.
A sub-thread involves the way Piet, who is a deep thinker in many ways, goes about finding things out … online chatting with his porn girl (Laurence Roothoft) when trying to learn about how to perform sexually … internet searching body disposal … making an online order (under the name ‘Richard Kimble’) for a getaway car he has to find someone else to pilot because he can’t drive … and coping with an intrusion from his appallingly drunk, bad advice-spouting best friend (Pit Bukowski) at the worst possible time. The ending is suitably matter-of-fact, and perhaps bleak.
Here’s the FrightFest listing.
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