Sunday, 5 March 2017

#21 TONI ERDMANN


Starring Peter Simonischek, Sandra Hüller, Ingrid Bisu, Michael Wittenborn, Thomas Loibl, Trystan Pütter, Hadewych Minis, Lucy Russell, Vlad Ivanov and Victoria Cocias. Written and directed by Maren Ade. Budget $8.3 million. Running time 162 minutes. Certificate 15.

It's the smash-hit German, three-hour, subtitled comedy starring no one you've probably never heard of before and starring no one under 25. Plus it's been getting rave reviews like 'SENSATIONAL', 'ACHINGLY FUNNY', 'HILARIOUS TRIUMPH' and 'SPECTACULAR. A KNOCKOUT'. Yes! It's TONI ERDMANN.

Toni what? I hear you ask. Yes! Toni Erdmann, a film you truly shouldn't judge by the cover, or the poster, cos if you'll do you'll miss the oddest, warmest and most cringe-inducing comedy you'll probably ever see. True it will test your patience to breaking point, true it is bum-numbingly long, true nothing really happens and true the humour comes from dialogue rather than gags and pratfalls.

The story sees Winifried Conradi, a lonely, divorced music teacher, whose beloved dog has just died decide to reconnect with his grownup daughter, Ines, a highly-stressed, unhappy, executive working for a German oil company in Budapest. This he does by turning up unannounced at her place of work disguised with a set of large false teeth, a shaggy wig and an ill-fitting suit and calling himself Toni Erdmann, a self-proclaimed life coach and consultant. Over the course of Winifried's visit, he insinuates himself into his daughter's life whilst disguised as alter-ego in a series of business meetings and events. These meetings, never planned, slowly have an effect on his daughter who begins to play along with her father's outlandish escapades and help her to subtly rethink her life culminating in the most astonishing, and cringe-worthy naked birthday party you've ever seen.

This is the very definition of a slowburn movie, nothing of any drama really happens yet the relationship between father and daughter is beautiful, as is their gentle re-connection. Peter Simonischek is amazing, bringing a reality and sadness to the role of the father and a sense of genunine ridiculousness and silliness to Toni Erdmann, who never becomes a figure of humiliation or mockery. There's a moment where the Father and daughter embrace which brings a real lump to the throat thanks to its rawness and believability.

This is a film I hope to return to in years to come. It left me with a nice warm glow. But don't worry if you miss it at the cinema, it'll work just as well at home, on TV. One word of warning see this in its original form before the rumoured Hollywood remake starring Jack Nickoson.

8/10

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