Slumming. 2006. Austria. Directed by Michael Glawogger. In German; English subtitles. 100 min.
Screenplay by Glawogger, Barbara Albert. With Paulus Manker, August Diehl, Michael Ostrowski. Courtesy Global Screen. How far we’ve come from the days of champagne waltzes in prewar Vienna: Slumming boldly ushers Austrian cinema into the new millennium, a skewering of upper-class cruelty and entitlement. Sebastian is a rich slacker who gets his kicks seducing women on the internet with (tall) tales of his prowess. He seems to meet his match in Pia, an elementary school teacher. Disgusted to discover his other cheap thrill—slumming in seedy bars to play callous pranks on drunks and other unwitting fools—she goes in search of Kallmann, the down-and-out alcoholic poet he picked up off the street and dumped across the border in the Czech Republic. Glawogger, a veteran of documentaries including the brilliantly observed Workingman’s Death and Megacities, recalls Balzac and Zola as he prowls Vienna’s lower depths, registering with sharp irony and gallows humor the jarring, unkind encounters between society’s privileged few and its destitute many. Cowritten by Barbara Albert, Slumming features a first-rate cast drawn from stage, screen and television, led by Paulus Manker as Kallmann, an actor known for his work with Michael Haneke, Alexander Kluge, and Oliver Hitschbigel as well as his own directorial efforts.