Rent Toni Erdmann (2016)

3.4 of 5 from 442 ratings
2h 36min
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Synopsis:
"Toni Erdmann" is a touching and remarkably funny portrait of an offbeat father-daughter relationship. Sandra Huller plays Ines, a highly-strung career woman whose life in corporate Bucharest takes a turn for the bizarre with the arrival of her estranged father Winfried (Peter Simonischek). An incessant practical joker, Winfried attempts to reconnect with Ines by introducing the titular eccentric alter ego to catch her off guard, unaware of how capable she is of rising to the challenge... This breakout German comedy, which has been met with universal critical acclaim, is as humanist as it is absurdist - a film about the importance of celebrating the humour of the everyday.
Actors:
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Mihai Manolache, , , Radu Dumitrache,
Directors:
Producers:
Maren Ade, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski, Michel Merkt
Writers:
Maren Ade
Others:
Janine Jackowski
Studio:
Soda Pictures
Genres:
Comedy
Countries:
Germany, Top 100 Films, Comedy
BBFC:
Release Date:
29/05/2017
Run Time:
156 minutes
Languages:
German
Subtitles:
English, English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.85:1
Colour:
Colour
Bonus:
  • Cast and Crew Interviews
  • Outtakes and Bloopers
  • Trailer
BBFC:
Release Date:
29/05/2017
Run Time:
162 minutes
Languages:
German
Subtitles:
English, English Hard of Hearing
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.85:1
Colour:
Colour
BLU-RAY Regions:
B
Bonus:
  • Cast and Crew Interviews
  • Outtakes and Bloopers
  • Trailer

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Reviews (11) of Toni Erdmann

Painful, and not in a good way. - Toni Erdmann review by AK

Spoiler Alert
19/04/2017

I had the misfortune to see this in the cinema, assured by a friend that my sides would be aching from laughter one minute, and that I'd be weeping with sadness the next. The only emotion that I felt throughout the whole film (nearly THREE HOURS) was overwhelming boredom. I have never, ever checked my watch in the cinema as often as I have while watching this, regularly thinking, "Surely something funny must happen soon?"

Basically, a middle-aged jerk decides, after his dog dies, to bond with his career-dedicated daughter, something that seems to involve donning a bad wig and false teeth and introducing himself to her colleagues as someone else. Hilarious. For the first hour they are sullen and downright rude to each other, and at times he appears to be stalking her: at one point he lets himself into her flat, walks into her bedroom and hides in her cupboard when he hears her coming -- as one does- from where he spies on her.

In another scene the daughter encourages her "lover" (I use quotation marks as there is no love evident in this relationship, as there is no emotional connection between anyone throughout the whole film) to masturbate onto some petit-fours before she eats one. Yes, it's that kind of funny. As in, it's not. The acting is low-key and monotonous, the cinematography flat and this film drags, drags, drags. Laugh? I didn't even crack a smile for it's entirety, and when it ended I felt liberated from the relentless greyness.

Fans have voiced horror at the proposed US remake. As far as I'm concerned, it can only be better. I understand Bill Murray passed on the lead after "losing" his copy of the DVD of the original. My guess is he watched the first hour and then threw it in the bin.

10 out of 12 members found this review helpful.

Won't win everyone over - Toni Erdmann review by WS

Spoiler Alert
07/10/2017

Inevitably a divisive film, it seems to have been more of a critics' than an audience favourite. I can think of a number of reasons why many viewers will find it alienating and unapproachable.

Winfried is an oddball who doesn't readily fit into any stock-character mould. An irrepressible prankster, he lacks the swagger and bombast that you would expect to go with it – he has a sort of sadness and air of permanent defeat about him, and you can't help wondering whether his clowning is just a way of coping with some unknown tragedy or setback he has had in past. His daughter is also rather difficult to read – she comes across as highly-strung yet never fragile or vulnerable, good at coping with pressure but never really letting her guard down even when she’s with her friends.

Structurally, it feels a little messy. There are redundant scenes that fail to advance the plot or give additional depth to the characters, and I believe at least ten minutes could have been trimmed painlessly from the running time (not including the notorious “petit-fours” scene). And as one other reviewer has observed, it is competently shot but not very visually rich – for example, little thought has been put into giving it a consistent palette or “look”, unlike that other recent German hit, The Lives of Others.

It has a political dimension but lacks real political punch – I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, just that it is understated and non-didactic. We learn early on that Ines' assignment is to promote outsourcing at any oil company, implying loss of jobs and worse employment conditions for the workers - but it’s not clear why we should care. We don’t get to meet any ordinary, working-class Romanians until fairly late, then we see one man get fired but that's partly his own fault. One might also expect some incisive comments about workplace gender politics. But despite encountering some fairly mild, non-malevolent sexism, you don’t really get the feeling that Ines is undervalued just for being a woman. Maternity leave, for example, is never raised as an issue (she has no evident aspirations that way). In fact the one power relationship that struck me as particularly iniquitous was between Ines and her Romanian PA, Anca. There was something queasy about the latter's eagerness to please and willingness to follow orders unquestioningly. For instance, when Ines gets blood on her white blouse before a presentation, she gets Anca to swap tops with her, and Anca even apologises that it's not her best one.

The ending is one that can be interpreted it in different ways; it could be seen as either sad or happy depending on what mood you’re in, but either way it doesn’t seem to provide a clear-cut resolution to any of the characters’ life problems.

It is a film about a clash of cultures and world-views, and perhaps articulates a particularly German sense of unease about whether their country can be a force for good internationally. It is about what we are in danger of losing as a society and perhaps have already irretrievably lost. The idealists of the late 60s-early 70’s are sometimes dismissed as wreckers and nihilists, but Winfried’s idealism is really a species of conservatism – he values kindness, hospitality, human interaction and the dignity of the individual, all of which is, unintentionally, being put at risk by Generation X’s “pragmatic” embrace of free-market capitalism.

For me it doesn’t quite achieve “flawed masterpiece” status – I don’t know whether it’s the unevenness of the comedy, the absence of a traditional character arc, or uninspired cinematography. But still it improved on second viewing – I found more laugh-out-loud moments and I found some of the father-daughter scenes moving in spite of the kookiness of the characters and situations. And I like films that don't tie up all the loose ends - after all, real life doesn't tidy up after itself, so why should cinema?

So, three-and-a-half stars rounded up.

6 out of 6 members found this review helpful.

Not Your Usual Comedy - Toni Erdmann review by JB

Spoiler Alert
04/07/2017

I was torn between 3 and 4 stars for this film. 3 because there were some slow parts, mostly dealing with business negotiations, that left me a bit bored; 4 because there are some brilliantly funny bits and because the film as a whole is strikingly original in concept and execution. I decided the 4 stars won out. Clearly the film bears no similarity to your typical Hollywood comedy. It bounces around between the comic, the mundane and the truly bizarre in a totally unpredictable fashion. Indeed, one thing I really liked about the film is that you never know where it is going. The film is about what is meaningful in life and in relationships, although it asks more than answers those questions. One might say that the bizarre twists of the film are allegories for the more normal twists and turns of one's own life. It's a film asking you to think about what is happening between the characters rather than a film with plot and action to entertain you.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Critic review

Toni Erdmann review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso

Toni Erdmann is awesome. An awesome blend of one-third comedy, one-third drama, half-a-third unusual German life story, and another half-a-third masterpiece. A masterpiece of cinema and narration, and I’m saying this without any exaggeration or hyperbolae. Matter of fact, when I come to think of hyperbolae, I also think of Toni Erdmann: in many ways, this film reminds audiences what it means to be human, to live, to err, and to err…laugh. That’s right, Toni Erdmann will make you laugh whilst making you cry as well; in fact, this little piece of celluloid tape will hit upon many emotions at once, many of which I bet you haven’t felt for a long, long time.

The film starts off slow, and keeps this pace all throughout, often featuring extended camera shots of lonely people just sitting, contemplating, and being at home with their thoughts. This may sound boring, and for some viewers it may be so, but it is done in a deliberate manner as to elicit that same emotion from viewers in the form of loneliness. In fact, loneliness may well be the central theme of the film, upon which everything else is based and stems from as well (who would’ve thought a given academic German household would feel that way?).

Further, Toni Erdmann features its fair share of bizarre, but NOT implausible scenes, which play along the central theme of the film whilst also grazing the surface of what could’ve been a deviation of the story’s norm (which unfortunately enough, does not happen). Still, Toni Erdmann plays its cards well, and utilises the actors (Sandra Hüller, Peter Simonischek, Michael Wittenborn, Trystan Pütter, Ingrid Bisu, and a plethora of others) to an extent where we feel the frustration they feel as well. When I come to think of it, Toni Erdmann is like a German version of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, only with adults instead of children. Or in other words, Toni Erdmann is the Boyhood equivalent of German cinema.

In addition, where many have stumbled, Toni Erdmann has succeeded. I’m talking about its script, which is poignant enough without it being too sentimental, and is also free of clichés and other misfires that often happen to plague lesser indie comedy/dramas. Which inevitably brings us to its story: a father, sensing her daughter’s life starts getting devoid of happiness and the such, conjures up an exquisite alter ego character in order to bring that happiness back to her life. Hilarity (and sadness) ensues.

Toni Erdmann is not a film for everyone, but is a film for someone that much I can say. If you happen to like slow-burners with German speaking actors and a nice dramatic backdrop, go ahead and indulge yourself in the beauty that is Toni Erdmann. Also directed and penned by Maren Ade.

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