Toni Erdmann

Toni Erdmann

(2016)

German comedy-drama about a father trying to reconnect with his adult daughter. Nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes 2016.... More

"Practical joker Winfried disguises himself as flashy 'Toni Erdmann' to get busy Ines's attention and change her corporate lifestyle. The father-daughter challenge reaches absurd proportions until Ines begins to see that her eccentric father deserves a place in her life… " (Cannes)Hide

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Flicks Review

From the opening scene, in which our protagonist turns an innocent courier delivery into a work of performance art, this film delivers surprises, shocks and cringe-inducing comedy at an impressive rate.... More

Winfried (Peter Simonischek) is an ageing music teacher with an overactive practical joker gland. His retirement prompts him to visit his estranged daughter Ines (Sandra Hüller), a corporate cold fish working as a strategist for a multinational in Bucharest. The odd-couple manage to cohabitate until dad’s incessant pranksterism drives the workaholic Ines insane and she packs him off to Germany.

That’s when Toni Erdmann comes in, he’s Winfried’s alter ego, aided by a disgusting set of prosthetic teeth and industrial-strength bullshitting. He poses as the life coach of his daughter’s CEO, and embarks on a hilarious gate crash of various corporate functions, even passing himself off as a drooling German ambassador. Les Patterson would be proud.

The father/daughter dynamic is the main event here, and it builds to a wonderfully intense conclusion, but the film has many layers, and somehow manages to play as a powerful satire on social dislocation, corporate culture and inequality along the way.

At 162 minutes it may be a touch ambitious, and yes, Toni will eventually drive you mad, but like his daughter you’ll eventually forgive the testing moments of exasperation. I struggle to think of other films that capture the same magic, but as I watched I pondered the Coen Brothers, Jacques Tati, and Ricky Gervais. Director Maren Ade and her stars Simonischek and Hüller have played a blinder.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 3 ratings, 2 reviews
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BY cinemusefilm superstar

Parent-child conflict is a universal theme that can be spun into an infinite variety of narrative fabrics and colours. For mothers, it is often treated as an angst-ridden melodrama while for fathers it is usually a comedy. Each relationship mix has its own tropes and conventions but the German-Austrian film Toni Erdman (2016) is far from being a genre film. It is a stream of consciousness comedic study of the father-daughter bond that is quirky, insightful and strangely moving.

It is hard to... More imagine a more mismatched duo: Winfried Conradi (Peter Simonischek) is the epitome of the irritating reconstructed divorced hippie father. He lives alone, seemingly half a century behind everyone else, and loves his own ‘dad jokes’ and clownish antics. When his beloved dog dies, he wants to re-connect with his corporate consultant daughter Ines (Sandra Huller), but his surprise arrival in her city is inauspicious. She barely acknowledges his presence while continuing to do the things that high-potential upwardly mobile young women do to impress and advance their prospects. From here forward, Winfried wants to save his daughter from a shallow heartless career where firing people, ruining lives, and being fluent in corporate-babble gains respect and reward. Like fathers around the world, he slips into and out of comedic personas to embarrass offspring into self-recognition. His chief alter-ego is Toni Erdmann, alternatively a life coach, Ambassador, or businessman, depending on who Ines introduces him to. In each role, he is able to prick her conscience into seeing herself as the sterile human she has become. In one scene, he tells her boss of a venture where you can hire a daughter to replace one who has no time for you, and in another, he disarms her by asking “are you even human?”. The longer he stays, the more cracks appear in her constructed persona and a softening light peeps through.

Within this linear plotline, there are several sub-stories that work as standalone comedic vignettes. Most contribute to the narrative, but some will leave viewers wondering what on earth just happened? The emotionless sexual encounter between Ines and a colleague is fertile ground for feminist analysis; the off-key singing of “The Greatest Love of All” by Ines is both poignant and ridiculous; and the naked lunch with a hairy guest monster can only be understood through a Beckett-like absurdist lens. At two hours and forty-two minutes, this film requires faith and patience. The pace is slow and another session in the editing suite would have helped without losing what is good and interesting. Fortunately, the acting performances are excellent, with an almost cameo-like deadpan-realism that is delivered convincingly by its relatively unknown stars.

One of the striking things about this film is how not-like-Hollywood it feels. There is nothing formulaic in the narrative nor are viewers pushed into an emotional corner. It is funny, sincere, definitely original, and far too long. By using humour intelligently rather than to exploit the quick gag for a loud laugh, it offers warm insight into the universal father-daughter bond that is as unorthodox as it is endearing.Hide


German Writer/Director, Maren Ade, has fashioned the unlikeliest of comic treats. A father, desperate to reconnect with his adult daughter, dons a mad wig and crazy dentures, in a half-cocked plan to invade her life.

Don’t let the slow pace of the first act fool you, because the initially meandering pace lays the narrative groundwork, earning audience investment in its characters as real people, complete with hilarious faults, foibles and fantasies.

Farcical, laugh-out-loud funny and... More touching, yes even sentimental, Toni Erdmann brings the words “German” and “comedy” together with a raucous, jubilant, twisted and hugely welcome wallop of wunderba!Hide


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The Press Reviews

95% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • A sly evocation of the absurdities and banalities of modern life. Just brilliant. Full Review

  • A slow-burning thing of beauty, ultimately as moving as it is implausibly funny. Full Review

  • Ade upends the cliche with her extravagantly strange, farcical situations - interestingly flavoured by embarrassment and resentment. Full Review

  • Like all great humanist filmmaking, Toni Erdmann keeps an eye out for life at the edges, even when the lives in focus consume a whole lot of energy. Full Review

  • Ade has an unusual gift for planting more than one idea in each frame; I don't think there's a single one of the movie's 162 minutes that can be reduced to a single emotional beat or narrative function. Full Review

  • A thrilling act of defiance against the toxicity of doing what is expected, on film, at work and out in the world. Full Review

  • Will polarise audiences - it refuses to be labelled a comedy or drama, instead presenting true and nuanced performances which deliver a timeless message about what's important. Full Review

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