Toni Erdmann

Film, Comedy
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(8user reviews)
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Toni Erdmann

This tender German comedy is a moving, often hilarious portrait of an unusual father-daughter relationship

Embarrassing dads don't come much more meaningful (or embarrassing) than the one in this German comedy. Running at nearly three hours, writer-director Maren Ade gives us a young workaholic professional German woman, Inès (Sandra Hüller), who’s on secondment to a multi-national company in Bucharest when her shaggy, ageing father Winfried (Peter Simonischek), a relentless practical joker, comes to visit for the weekend. That itself is totally out of character for Winfried – his usual comfort zone is greeting a startled postman on the doorstep while wearing false teeth and speaking in a funny accent. Then, after an awkward couple of days together, Winfried refuses to go home. He pops up everywhere that Inés goes in Bucharest, invading her life on the local business and diplomatic scene, wearing a wig and pretending to be a life coach called Toni Erdmann.

There’s nothing new about many of the concerns of this anarchic, moving German comedy: the growing gulf between parents and their adult kids; the conflict between work and family; the alienating, dehumanising nature of the modern workplace; the role of women in corporate culture; the economic direction in which modern Europe is heading. But the way in which Ade (whose last film was 2009's 'Everyone Else') tackles all these things is startlingly original, frequently hilarious and completely surprising at every turn. It's a rare film that makes you think deeply about the world around you while also making you laugh hard at scenes of nudity or a grown man walking down the streets wearing an oversized bear costume.

But that's the sort of freewheeling, inquiring, confrontational comedy that Ade has created. It's blessed with two excellent lead performances from the actors playing father and daughter (Hüller has a film-stealing scene in which she sings Whitney Houston's 'The Greatest Love of All' at a party). And the film’s no-nonsense, visually plain documentary-style of shooting feels utterly appropriate to its sly evocation of the absurdities and banalities of modern life. Just brilliant.

By: Dave Calhoun

Posted:

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday February 3 2017
Duration: 162 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Maren Ade
Screenwriter: Maren Ade
Cast: Peter Simonischek
Sandra Hüller
Hadewych Minis

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|8
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John C
1 of 1 found helpful
tastemaker

This could have been an interesting & amusing 90 minute film. Unfortunately it's 2 hours & 40 mins.After 2 hours I started praying for it to end. 

If you go & see this film believing that Germans have little sense of humour, "Toni Erdmann" is unlikely to change your mind.   

kayleighar
tastemaker

A bizarre yet endearing tale of the redundancy parents face when their children fly the nest. The story follows Ines, a young corporate professional, her joker father Winfried and his alter ego, Toni Erdmann. Donning a shaggy wig and false buck teeth, Toni is silly, a tad odd and at times downright hilarious, and shows up wherever Ines goes whilst on a very important business trip in Bucharest, much to Ines' annoyance. But despite his clowning around Winfried simply wants to spend time with his daughter, a recognisable theme within today's modern family dynamic. Certain points in the film will have you roaring with laughter and others evoke feelings of genuine sorrow, while overall promoting the touching message that nothing is more important than making time for your loved ones.

Danilo Reis
tastemaker

This is an excellent film. It's funny, emotional and visually beautiful. It is also a social criticism of capitalism. I enjoyed it thoroughly. However, some people find it boring and too long, possibly because they are unable to engage with the film's many layers of meaning. I definitely recommend it to culture geeks. The general Hollywood film lover will not like this film.

Julie R
Tastemaker

After reading several good reviews about this film, I jumped at the chance of going to the single screening of this at my local Cineworld.

It is a gentle comedy, slightly surreal, as you can see in the picture above, the main character likes to go round wearing comedy teeth and a wig.  It did amuse me and I enjoyed the randomness of it, but at almost 3 hours long, I feel it should have been cut down by about an hour and I would have enjoyed it more.  There wasn't much in the way of a plotline and it seemed like the film should be more of a series of short sketches than one long film.


I did enjoy it however.  If the ratings were out of 10, I would have given it a 7, but thought a rounding down rather than up is more appropriate.


I booked to this see before the Oscar ceremony and watched after, knowing it had not won the best foreign language film category.  I have not seen the film that won, but I think this is fair that it didn't win as I saw several foreign language films at the BFI film festival last year which I thought were better (eg The Worthy and Kills on Wheels).

nicknickn
Tastemaker

Toni Erdmann is a serious comedy. It makes you laugh, but it wants you to think. 

Maren Ade is a clever director, she throws in many jokes that aren't funny, in order to make you laugh out loud at the serious parts that are absurd and ridiculous.

It's about a father daughter relationship. They have grown apart and the dad is determined to rectify that, whether or not his daughter has time for it. Sandra Huller as Ines is very good indeed, initially irritated by his attention and his worry about her life/work balance, but gradually coming to see that he might indeed have a point.

Peter Simonischek is also good as Winfried/Toni, who is at his wits end, trying to work out how to win back the lost regard of his only daughter.

This movie is slow to start, but I believe that is purposeful in order to make you enjoy the gentle build up to the satisfying conclusion.

I have to admit, that I haven't seen the other films up for the best foreign language Oscar, but I can say, that one of them would need to be exceptional indeed, if it is to beat Toni Erdmann to the Academy Award.


Sarah S

I cried several times - both because it made me sad and because I was laughing so loud. Amazingly clever movie, in which the confusing scenes do serve a purpose. Loved it. I had no idea the movie was this long, only noticed it when I checked my phone after the movie. It kept me thoroughly entertained. 

mike s

A slow start building to a thunder storm; the song is beautiful.  Loved it!

Vera S
tastemaker

I usually trust smart people's recommendations when it comes to film. I like nothing more than scribbling down an abstract title on my to-do list, happy that my Friday night will be, intellectually at least, sorted. So when my brother came to me with Toni Erdmann, singing praises, I got rather excited.


Undeservingly so, however, as not only does the film go on for much too long, the story, which starts out as well crafted and witty, soon takes a turn into the messy abyss. From strange costumes to random locations, car journeys and naked parties, I am not sure if the director was aiming to confuse, entertain, or simply wanted to pour it all into one film (perhaps he was aware that after Toni Erdmann, he may not get a second chance. Not from me at least). 


It's messy, the message gets lost halfway, and if you're still paying attention by the end and have the capacity to get emotional, you're lucky. It certainly has its highlights - giant, fluffy costume, father's ridiculous fake teeth, cheese grater gifts and such - but also its lowlights. I'm not even going to touch on the erotic scene, because it's enough to put you off straight away.


Toni Erdmann starts out as a great film, and ends up what is not perhaps unwatchable, but certainly not worthy of all the praise my brother, and everyone else, seems to give it.