Toni Erdmann (2016)
Dir: Maren Ade
Dad’s eh? They don’t get many good gigs in films – they’re either leaping blazing buildings to rescue everyone or sad but hot widowers who just need the right woman in their life. Well if you, like me, are a little tired of that; here is a much more humanistic film.
Minor caveat: it’s long at two and a half hours, but it is definitely worth it (if only for the rendition of ‘The Greatest Love’ which is absolute comedy gold.)
Long story short; Ines is a 30 something corporate woman rising in the ranks of her fast paced consultancy firm (played with stone-cold perfection by Sandra Huller). She is having a bit of a stick up her ass, as they say in Germany, and zero sense of humour. She’s just landed a big new contract when her dad, who’s a bit lonely after his dog has died and wants to reconnect, comes to pay her a visit. It is an unwelcome suprise to say the least as Ines doesn’t have the time or capacity for relating to her bumbling old dad. Instead of being offended by her coldness, her dad decides to nudge a bit of lightness into his daughters life by clumsily following her around donning an alter ego; Toni Erdmann, a ridiculous parody of all that is fakery and hubris in the business world. In an environment where no one is sure if he’s joking and no one wants to lose face, Toni is embraced by the company, and Ines – stubbornly refusing to be amused, plays along…who will crack first?
This film is hilarious and also very touching. Peter Simonisheck is superb as the prankster dad who is clumsily trying to make a connection with his distant daughter whilst making fun of everything she has worked for. Sandra Huller plays Ines with the tight-lipped tension of someone desperately trying to hang onto the persona she has created even though it’s a heavy and unsatisfying suit. All together the humanity in it is just gorgeous and you have to watch it.. Best German film in many years in my opinion. Watch it free on Prime or rent now below.