Toni Erdmann

Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Directed by Maren Ade

Jan 30, 2017 Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary
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Finding himself with some time on his hands after his dog dies and his sole piano student quits, aging goofball Winfried (Peter Simonischek) decides to reconnect with his workaholic daughter, Ines (Sandra Hüller), and makes an unannounced and not entirely welcome visit to her office in Bucharest. This ignites a battle of wills between the two, with Winfried’s love of gag teeth and off-color jokes jeopardizing his daughter’s efforts to close The Big Deal with her Important Client. Things escalate quickly once the mysterious title character shows up.

You can be forgiven for mistaking that plot for any number of sitcom episodes; the funny, strange, and deeply moving film director Maren Ade has made transcends its Dharma & Greg trappings. Running nearly three hours, outrageous for a comedy, the film never drags because it changes direction so frequently and naturally. Ade organically nestles depictions of workplace sexism against bits of crude sex comedy and subtle critique of globalized capitalism. If that isn’t enough, throw in a stunning rendition of a Whitney Houston classic, a Bulgarian kuker costume, and a thrilling/hilarious extended nude scene that doubles as a touching climax. Toni Erdmann never stops surprising and rewarding its audience.

sonyclassics.com/tonierdmann

Author rating: 9/10

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