Toni Erdmann

"Excellent"

Toni Erdmann Review


On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising, but there's a reason why this movie has been collecting awards around the world. Not only is it simply hilarious, but it also makes some smart observations about life today, reminding us that it's important to stop taking everything so seriously.

In Germany, music teacher Winfried (Peter Simonischek) is known by his students, friends and family as a relentless prankster, livening up any situation with an unexpected jolt of silliness. His daughter Ines (Sandra Huller) has taken a job in Hungary, and on a visit home Winfried realises that she's deeply unhappy with her life, even though her work as a corporate consultant is going well. So after she returns to Budapest, Winfried decides to pay her a visit, dressing up as his alter-ego Toni Erdmann, with a ridiculous wig and crooked fake teeth and posing as a visiting consultant. He pops up at all the wrong moments, and Ines has little choice but to play along. But his goal is to find her deeper smile.

Writer-director Maren Ade never pushes a single scene, letting the characters reveal themselves as earthy, real people with sarcastic senses of humour along with their darker emotions. So Winfried's goofy antics have a surprising edge to them, both zany and meaningful at the same time. Which means that the film gets the audience laughing louder and louder on a variety of levels. We never know what's going to come next, and we're utterly unprepared for where the story goes, especially with a jaw-dropping turn at Ines' climactic dinner party. Simonischek and Huller play their roles beautifully, revealing complex layers of personality that make both of them likeable and a bit infuriating at the same time. By the end we just want to give them a big, furry hug.

The basic set up is genius: a man who has never lost the child within him trying to remind his too-serious daughter that it's important to be childish whenever possible. This is a bracing exploration of how nonstop activity and the pressures of work and money can distract us from being happy. At the same time, the film takes a striking look at the corporate culture of downsizing, the textures of the European Union job market and the economic inequality growing throughout the Western world. None of these themes are laid on heavily, because at its essence this is a father-daughter comedy. But the knowing approach surprises us with both its hilarity and its resonance.

Watch the trailer for Toni Erdmann:



Toni Erdmann

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 162 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 25th December 2016

Box Office USA: $374,684.00

Budget: $3M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Arte, Komplizen Film, Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), Südwestrundfunk (SWR), Coop99 Filmproduktion, KNM, MonkeyBoy, HiFilm

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 95 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Maren Ade

Producer: Maren Ade, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski, Michel Merkt

Starring: Peter Simonischek as Winfried / Toni, Sandra Hüller as Ines, as Steph, Vlad Ivanov as Illiescu, Hadewych Minis as Tatjana, Ingrid Bisu as Anka, Trystan Pütter as Tim, John Keogh as Mr. Myers, Alexandru Papadopol as Dascalu, Radu Banzaru as Bogdan, Victoria Malektorovych as Natalja, Ingrid Burkhard as Annegret, Jürg Löw as Gerhard, Cosmin Padureanu as Taxi Driver, Michael Wittenborn as Henneberg, Thomas Loibl as Gerald, Ruth Reinecke as Renate

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