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Toni Erdmann starts slow and is in general a movie that takes its time. 162 minutes might suggest an overlong or very slow paced film, but in this 162 minutes we get a firework-like examination of a relationship between a father and a daughter. And yes, Toni Erdmann is a comedy. There are some moments that are so hilarious, that they gained applause mid film from the audience at my screening. But it is also a tragedy. A really complex one actually. There is so much loneliness in those characters, so much longing. Toni Erdmann is constantly entertaining, extremely well acted and emotionally compelling. A masterpiece of German cinema.
This movie is one if this rare occasions that gives you the sensation
you saw something very special today. It has some kind of unique comedy
status like Monty Python or Bill Murray. If you think about a serious
Monty Python or a more hilarious Broken Flowers you might come close to
The main theme is loneliness. A father realizes that his daughter is not happy even though she has a great career and pretends to be fine. So he tries to bring joy back in her life.
The acting is brilliant both Toni and Ines are as authentic as possible. Some scenes were so funny that i basically cried tears of joy. Especially the nude party is so ridiculous ... its actually one of best scenes i ever saw in cinema.
This is a great and very unique movie and i want to thank Maren Ade for this piece of art. Imho the best German comedy ever made. 10/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How could they make such a good film out of "Toni Erdmann"? The premise
seems worn-out: Winfried Conradi (Peter Simonischek), a retired music
teacher, assumes the fake identity of Toni Erdmann by putting on
grotesque fake teeth whenever he feels like horsing around with people,
which is quite often. He comes to visit his daughter Ines (Sandra
Hüller), a tough businesswoman who lives in Bucharest, and messes up
her life. The trailer gave reason to expect a movie with more instances
of Fremdschämen - external shame - than comedy. And I took it for
granted that all this would lead to a "heartwarming" change of the
daughter and her discovering what "living" really means.
But this comedy isn't about punchlines, and this tragedy isn't about payoffs. The actors are too clever to make caricatures out of their characters. Sandra Hüller in particular deserves praise for keeping a shade of humanity in the early scenes, and it actually makes her more creepy. Is her tolerably friendly behavior towards her father just as phoney as her smiles in business sessions? And writer-director Maria Ade shows us so much from the lives of her characters and takes the scenes to such lengths that cheap triumphs become impossible. Toni interferes in Ines' life when he tells tall tales to her clients or even introduces himself as the "German ambassador in Romania"; but ultimately, he doesn't overthrow, he only irritates. When Ines hosts a nude party at the end, it would play out like an act of liberation in any other film. Here, the most drastic consequence is a change of workplace: from one consulting company to the next.
No, Toni Erdmann cannot change the cold business world, which is a tragedy. But he remains stubborn and resistant in this world, and that is a blessing. Because the film takes time (162 minutes) to make you care for these characters and to introduce believable (if not realistic) situations, they provide some humor again. When Toni makes a slick businessman believe that he's hired a replacement daughter because his real child is too busy to spend time with him, you laugh that you may not cry.
Globalization is an important theme in "Toni Erdmann". Economic issues are addressed ("outsourcing"), but in the end the movie has more to say about cultural and societal alienation. Large parts of the dialogue are held in English even though, if I remember correctly, no native English speakers turn up; this adds to the shallowness of conversations. One can talk about business deals, bars and shopping facilities this way, but after a while, there may not be anything more to care about. The Romanians, by the way, never come off as stereotyped, whether it's an impulsive factory owner or a simple worker. For some reason, it is an absolute rarity in films - in Hollywood and elsewhere - to portray foreigners as human beings if they're not among the leads, but this is one of those instances.
The wisest films tend to ask questions instead of giving answers. Toni asks Ines the old, clichéd question, "Do you actually find the time to live?" She responds, "What is living?" Toni doesn't know. He tries to live his own way, but he can't tell others what to do, and the ending doesn't show us a revolution. Maria Ade knows what Brecht knew when he wrote,
"With consternation / We see the curtain closed, the plot unended. / In your opinion then, what's to be done?"
This film is OK, but not outstanding. With a running time of 160 minutes it is far too long and some obviously boring scenes could have been shortened. There are a lot of irrational decisions by the protagonists. If they were funny they could aid the film. However, they aren't. What is funny about eating a sperm soaked petite four? The joke with the fake teeth is overstretched and redundant. Some jokes by the father have even to be declared as jokes by him otherwise nobody would have understood them. What is most ungratifying with this film is the lack of connection to the main character. He was so poorly introduced, I did not feel any sympathy with him. Some of his actions were meant to be funny but were so stupid I felt sorry for him. Even the end leaves you with a "so what?". The daughter keeps her unsatisfying type of job although at a different company and the relationship with her father seems to be just the same as before. Lucky for the daughter, her new job is much farther away from her fathers home. There is hope that he leaves her alone.
This is a great movie - but most likely not for everyone. It's about
academic upper middle-class people and their family relationships. Not
everybody will find that interesting and there is no usual "romantic"
plot development. It's a family portrait of a father and her daughter
and as such has no (plot) conclusion. It is not the usual light comedy
since it touches very serious questions and the prevailing mood is
unhappiness (it is however _very_ funny at times ;-)).
That being said, this movie makes some very fine and subtle observations, presents them in a funny and entertaining form yet at the same time in a thought-provoking and philosophical way which will make you think about it for a long time. If you're from an academic (german) household you will find lots of similarities in your own family relations.
This movie is not fast-paced - in fact it often has long shots of lonely people and a lot is not said but has to be filled in by the viewer. So if you don't relate to the characters this movie will feel longish for sure. But if you find traces of your own life or that of your friends and relatives you'll be amazed by the subtlety and finesse in which this movie is directed. Although there are some bizarre events, everything which happens in this movie could happen in real life. There are no implausible scenes in this movie! This is an incredible statement given the crazy and bizarre things which happen in this movie. If you wanna know how that could be true, you might wanna watch it.
It had problems with pace. It was slow. It has as a central character a
sullen, forlorn, unlikable and very unsympathetic young woman. The male
lead, the woman's father performed largely comic relief. None of the
characters seemed to properly developed as to why they were on a
Some of the minor characters were even on the good side but some vital plot points were not expressed in a manner that leads the audience to identify with the characters journeys.
I think that it might have had many editing problems and pieces of plot left on the cutting room floor.
Maybe I have read to many positive reviews about Toni Erdmann (btw. "Toni Erdmann" would be a wonderful brand name for fashion products like sun glasses). And my expectations went too high. Because, the movie does not fulfill the highest praise written by all of the professional reviewers. This is a low emotion movie. I guess, it depends mainly on the viewer, how involved he/she will get. Simonischek as father and Hüller as daughter play wonderful, giving the characters an authentic drive. Somehow Hüller's acting calls to mind the well tempered acting of Jodie Foster! In the movie the daughter is captured in the slippery profession of a top management consultant in East Europe. After the death of his old dog her father visits her for several weeks and tries to give her back some real life by making himself a fool to show all other are fools, too. His trick works out quite successful and shows surprisingly believable that individuals got much wider possibilities to act in real life to change the world, as they do in daily life by just following their little cushy habits instead. Just go for this movie. It is entertaining and it will give you some hints what is going wrong in/with your life. (and will go on wrong in future...).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So the summary seemed great. Too bad this was nowhere in the movie. How does this movie show the struggle of the father trying to recconect with his daughter? Other than being an immature middle-aged man, he does nothing but ruin his daughter's business connections, her meetings and the job she had so carefully fought for, by appearing EVERYWHERE and lying to everyone. The business scenes were way too many and way too tiring, but served as the only normal scenes in the film. Other than that, total chaos. By the end of the film we realise how damaged, lonely and obsessed the daughter is with her career. The acting was excellent though, even by the supporting actors, plus a few moments seemed so delicately designed.
The film is (partly) about the fact that the globalisation of production does not go hand in hand with the globalisation of (real) culture, and therefore people lose a part of their "humanness", and get a strange substitute for it, the so-called "corporate culture". This problem affects all of us and most of us must have encountered similar situations or feelings as the persons in the film, that is why imho it resonates with so many people. It is especially meaningful coming from a nation, which in the past produced the greatest artists and thinkers (and not only the dark years), and which by all its peculiar characteristics and abilities would be meant to oppose the above trend. Sorry if my English is a bit strange.
I watched this movie due to its high mark (especially by the meta-score)and in the last seconds I asked myself: so what ? Like we never saw solitude, loneliness movies ever...The acting is OK, but the subject is stretched over limits, and at a certain time I stopped to watch and went for a cigarette ! My understanding about this movie is about two societies with their characteristics (the German and the Roumanian) both mixed in a capitalistic globalization, I won't say without mercy but without care for real people. Perhaps the last or one of the last sentences of the father was that we work all time to accomplish some targets (typically German !) and don't pay attention to details along our life and then is too late....As a Romanian born young person, the atmosphere of Bucarest is very well depicted as well people surrounding the personages. But one shouldn't wonder, as these days the Romanian cinema is among the highest in its achievements, for example Mungiu's recent film "Bacalaureat" (aka Graduation)stands much above the present one. Sorry folks, but I wasn't left with a great impression.
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