Toni Erdmann


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Daughter and father hi-jinks in Toni Erdmann with Sandra Hüller and Peter Simonischek
"The film really shouldn’t work, but it does." | Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

The mention of the description “German comedy” would be enough to make many prospective viewers turn tail and head for the hills.

That would be a pity because Maren Ade’s third feature (after The Forest For The Trees and Everyone Else) is an exuberant exploration of the dynamics of relationships which mostly sustains its marathon running time.

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Under scrutiny is the relationship between a laid-back father and his estranged daughter working for a German company in Romania. He feels that corporate life is not making her happy and he decides to turn up on her doorstep in Bucharest.

His idea is to provoke a confrontation which he tries to instigate by turning up in various gruesome disguises involving an unkempt wig, bad teeth that do not fit and a string of false identities such as being German ambassador.

Austrian actor Peter Simonischek has fun springing the surprises, while his daughter (played by Sandra Hüller) - aghast at first - slowly lets her defences fall.

When she puts him in a taxi for the airport and his return home the father-daughter relationship appears to have found some common ground, although this may not be the last we see of the inventive and shambling creation.

And there is still a way to go before the 162 minutes are through. The film really shouldn’t work, but it does, managing to be both extremely moving and hilariously funny at the same time.

Reviewed on: 16 May 2016
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Toni Erdmann packshot
A father drops in on his daughter and poses as a stranger to her friends.
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Director: Maren Ade

Writer: Maren Ade

Starring: Peter Simonischek, Sandra Hüller, Lucy Russell, Trystan Pütter, Hadewych Minis, Vlad Ivanov, Ingrid Bisu, John Keogh, Ingo Wimmer, Cosmin Padureanu, Anna Maria Bergold, Radu Banzaru, Alexandru Papadopol, Sava Lolov, Jürg Löw

Year: 2016

Runtime: 162 minutes

Country: Germany, Austria

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