Friday, 2 September 2016

TONI ERDMANN - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TIFF 2016 - Teutonic Father-Daughter Hilarity

Toni Erdmann (2016)
Dir. Maren Ade
Starring: Peter Simonischek, Sandra Hüller

Review By Greg Klymkiw

If you do the wrong math on Toni Erdmann, you might be tempted to assume a 162-minute running time and its country of origin (Germany) will yield an unbearably dreary slog, so whatever you do, don't be a dumkopf in your calculations; Maren Ade's lovely picture yields one of the funniest, most heartwarming and celebratory experiences you'll have at the movies this year.

Winfried Conradi (Peter Simonischek) is a hangdog retired old schlub who perks up his life (and those around him, when they're so willing) with a seemingly endless supply of practical jokes which he pulls off with costumes (including fake buck teeth) and a totally straight face.

His adult daughter Ines (Sandra Hüller), a public relations executive in the field of international relations is less amused. Her poker face in the joy department matches Winfried's in the gag sweepstakes. There's clearly a deep love between father and daughter, but also an estrangement as she's tried to move on and create a life and career for herself.

When Winfried comes to visit Ines in Romania, unannounced no less, he finds her in the midst of an important campaign involving the outsourcing of jobs (and an attempt to lessen the blow of the optics). Daddy Dearest wastes no time insinuating himself upon Ines and her world. Donning a series of ridiculously cheesy sport coats, buck teeth and a moronic wig (a la Peter Sellers in What's New Pussycat), he assumes the fictional role of "Toni Erdmann", proving to be a blessing and curse to his daughter's business dealings.

This movie is so funny, I needed to constantly gasp for air, but when the picture settles into genuine pathos, tears were shed with equal abandon. Father-daughter relationships have their own unique complexities and writer-director Ade captures this dynamic with considerable artistry.

Toni Erdmann is easily the most joyous experience I've had at the movies in a long time. You laugh, you cry, but most importantly, you soar.

Soaring is good. Trust me.


Toni Erdmann plays at TIFF 2016. It is a Mongrel Media release.