Toni Erdmann (2016)

MAREN ADE

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBBGermany/Austria, 2016.  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .  Screenplay by Maren Ade.  Cinematography by .  Produced by Maren Ade, , , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 2016.  Cannes Film Festival 2016.  Golden Globe Awards 2016.  Independent Spirit Awards 2016.  New York Film Critics Awards 2016.  Toronto International Film Festival 2016Washington Film Critics Awards 2016.

Sandra Huller in Toni Erdmann.

A magnificent example of deeply humorous observation combined with overwhelmingly impressive restraint, Maren Ade’s masterpiece is a nearly three hour film whose length is never in the least bit felt.  It focuses on the relationship between a father and daughter, he a practical joker with a cynical appreciation for the ridiculous nature of life, she a solemn and uptight executive climbing the corporate ladder as a project consultant for an oil company, perpetually nervous about how she is perceived by her bosses and her peers.  Visiting her in her temporary post in Bucharest, the father attends a few events and charms his daughter’s co-workers while frustrating her completely, the two of them falling into their usual habit of failing to find the middle of the road.  They part company after one weekend and she is relieved to see him go, then goes to a bar with her friends and runs into a man with wild hair and fake teeth who is actually her dad in disguise.  Pretending to be a business rival and insinuating himself into her increasingly tenuous work project, he gives her a shake up that will have a tremendous effect on her feelings about herself and their mutual relationship, while she gives him insight into what drives her to succeed.  Every sequence feels fresh and original, every exchange of dialogue has a natural spontaneity that is incredibly smart and deeply funny, a film that encompasses both the creative and the commonly humane and never loses its steady, fully energized rhythm in doing so. and are both powerhouses in the lead roles, the film is as captivating when putting the two of them together as it is observing them separately, with Huller particularly gifted at delivering deadpan expressions worthy of Chaplin.  Then you get to an unforgettable performance of a Whitney Houston song, a naked party and a Bulgarian traditional costume that will simply blow your mind and you realize you’re watching something that simply has no false moves anywhere in its mammoth running time.  Don’t miss this movie, it’s an instant classic.

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2 thoughts on “Toni Erdmann (2016)

  1. I keep thinking about the scene with the dress and the zipper-fork. So good, and such a wonderful transitional moment… at least it was for me. Thanks for the heads up on what will become one of my favourite films of the 2010s.

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