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Review: Toni Erdmann

Runtime: 2hr 42min
Director: Maren Ade
Release Date: 3rd February 2017
Rating: 15 (UK), R (US)

This Oscar-nominated German comedy may have gained favour amongst others, but failed to leave me captivated through its' depiction of politics, pranks and dysfunctional families.

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The film views a snapshot of the life of Winfried Conradi - a music teacher and life-long prankster who, upon the death of his beloved canine companion, decides to visit his estranged daughter (Ines Conradi, played by Sandra Hüller) in Bucharest for her birthday.. leading to her horror as an alter-ego - 'Toni Erdmann' - begins causing a nuisance at various events as he follows her around (in an attempt to both embarrass and connect with her).

The premise of the film - though not riveting - sounds decent enough; a moving father/daughter tale with some jokes lodged in there. The screenplay, though well-written and humorous at times, came across (perhaps purposefully-) awkward and dull - somewhat lacking in that natural fluidity that many alternative comedies manage to achieve. This could be, in part, due to its' long-winded (almost 3 hour) screen-time (not many pictures can pull that off!).

Sandra Hüller was actually rather good in her role - though I struggled to want to reach her entry to the film as it started so slowly I could happily have nodded off. Once in full swing, Toni Erdmann was actually quite nicely paced, showing well how irritating, over-bearing and infuriating Winfried makes his daughter (bad-dad dancing doesn't cut it!) who, though softens to him toward the closing credits, really doesn't want her father to be a part of her world.

My main compliment here is that it is unashamedly silly whilst contributing some underlining moving, melancholic elements - something popular this season at cinemas (think Manchester by the Sea). Dutch director, Maren Ade, may well have been caught up in the ridiculousness and satire of her whole creation though - which sometimes worked but at other times were left stale.

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Some fairly good characters and fairly good dialogue, this tragedy/comedy caught me off guard with its' seemingly-uncharacteristically serious elements - as Ines begins to let down her defences, I felt that so did I.

Though perhaps a controversial opinion, I can't really say I would give Toni Erdmann the time of day again; not a tragic effort but one best left at one time only viewing. Although I appreciate a foreign language film generating a bit of buzz, and liked their attempt at bringing things back to basics, I couldn't vouch for it past 'it's not bad'.


This post first appeared on Show Me The Movies, please read the originial post: here

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Review: Toni Erdmann


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