“Toni Erdmann” Review ✦✦✦✧✧

28 February, 2017

Director: Maren Ade
Screenwriter: Maren Ade
Director of Photography: Patrick Orth
Sandra Hüller, Peter Simonischek, Michael Wittenborn

Synopsis: A corporate strategist with a hectic lifestyle struggles to maintain professionalism after her estranged father surprises her with a visit and wreaks havoc on her career with his never-ending stream of practical jokes.

Toni Erdmann Review:

Atypical in manner but universally relatable, “Toni Erdmann” reminds us that blood is thicker than water with its unbalanced depiction of a father-daughter relationship revolving around a rather surreal set of comedic escapades. Putting the ‘function’ in dysfunction, Maren Ade finds meaning in her madness, crafting a socially stunted tale of unspoken tenderness and maladjustment as a goofball father finds an unusual point of entry into his daughter’s life, endlessly stalking her and pushing her beyond breaking point as he attempts to divert her attention back to the things that really matter in life.

Learning and adapting to one another, Ines and Winfried level the playing field through absurdity while Ade constantly highlights the sheer ridiculousness of both of their lives through memorable sequences involving aberrant sexual encounters, a spontaneous rendition of Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All,” and a naked Birthday brunch involving a Bulgarian kukeri costume. Leading up to a moment of genuine warmth and open-heartedness between two family members, “Toni Erdmann” holds the key to its suppressed emotion in a fuzzy embrace and it tiptoes towards this moment at a snail’s pace, drawing attention to how gradual a change of heart can be while taking its time to deliver on its promise.

In a film where awkwardness spills over into hilarity, reaction shots come to define an entire relationship between a woman hiding behind a mask of professionalism and an incessant prankster who will do anything to regain his daughter’s affection. While “Toni Erdmann” undoubtedly finds its feet in its final moments, its scoreless assessment of the bond shared between a sour-faced businesswoman and ageing practical joker leaves a bizarre taste in the mouth, even for those prepared to find the humour in gratuitous nudity, popping blood blisters, and transparent disguises.


Review Date
Toni Erdmann