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Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann

Toni Erdmann
dir: Maren Ade, Germany, 2016
Rating: 9.8

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“And if, by chance, that special place / That you’ve been dreaming of / Leads you to a lonely place / Find your strength in love”
— The Greatest Love of All

There is an unforgettable scene towards the end of Leo McCarey’s screwball-comedy masterpiece The Awful Truth where the female lead, Lucy (Irene Dunn), is attempting to sabotage the relationship between Jerry (Cary Grant), her recent ex-husband, and Barbara (Molly Lamont), his new fiance. Lucy embarrasses Jerry deeply by showing up at Barbara’s house and pretending to be “Lola,” his drunken floozy of a sister (who does not exist in reality). In front of Barbara and her stuffy parents, Jerry has no choice but to go along with this ruse. Only the longer Lucy sticks around “in character,” the more obvious it becomes that Jerry actually appreciates the cleverness of her act. His exasperation slowly, almost imperceptibly, turns into admiration. As Lucy/Lola sings “My Dreams are Gone with the Wind,” to demonstrate her risque-circa-1937 nightclub routine, Jerry starts to smile in spite of himself, an indication that maybe these two nutcases really do belong together after all. Toni Erdmann, the third feature from the young German filmmaker Maren Ade (Everyone Else), is like this one great scene stretched to an epic running time of two hours and forty two minutes — and I mean that as a huge compliment. The film may be leisurely paced, especially for a comedy, but when the climactic, instant-classic “nude party scene” arrives, you know that Ade needed every one of those minutes in order to reach her sublime destination.

Toni Erdmann was by far the best movie I saw last year (I did not include it in my Top 50 Films of 2016 list because it only screened for the press in Chicago in December and does not open at local theaters proper until this Friday). The genius of Ade’s shaggy-dog story, which is written, directed and acted to perfection, is that it takes the dynamics of the screwball-comedy romance and perversely applies them to a father-daughter relationship (perhaps for the first time in the history of cinema): Ines (Sandra Huller) is a straight-laced and uptight German businesswoman (think Cary Grant in another screwball classic, Bringing Up Baby) whose world is turned upside down after repeated and unwelcome intrusions into her life by her opposite number — her goofball, music-teacher father, Winfried (Peter Simonischek, in the Katharine Hepburn role), from whom she has long been estranged. “Toni Erdmann” is Winfried’s even goofier alter-ego, a character with a bad wig and outrageous false teeth, a prankster persona through whom he tries to forge a new bond with Ines and help her break out of her self-constructed shell of alienation in the process. In many ways, the film is about Winfried/Toni teaching Ines to “learn to love herself,” to quote a certain classic Whitney Houston jam that is prominently featured on the soundtrack, and it is possible to enjoy the film purely on this level — as an emotionally rich character study: I would argue that the poignant father/daughter relationship at its core is as universal and timeless as that of Yasujiro Ozu’s Late Spring (although it is also given a refreshingly female-centric spin by its female writer/director).

But I think Toni Erdmann can also be seen as working on another level — one that makes it much more specific to our own era. The action plays out mainly in Bucharest where Ines has been sent on business by her international consulting-firm employer (her assignment is to recommend to the President of a Romanian corporation how many of his employees he should fire). It is implied that Ines’ high-pressure job is the reason why she has lost the simple ability to enjoy life and, in this respect, the film functions as a subversive and even angry critique of global capitalism. The most bizarre scene, and one that may initially puzzle some viewers, involves a sexual encounter between Ines and one of her clients in a hotel room, a tryst that she engineers because she senses it will be advantageous for her career. Disgusted with herself, Ines instructs the client, a shallow douchebag, to ejaculate on a petit four, which she then promptly and shockingly eats. Ines’ attempt to “control the narrative” of this empty sexual experience is her futile way of trying to make herself feel better about the fact that she is essentially prostituting herself. This is her lowest point, after which she will genuinely start to feel better once she reconciles with her father. But while the film ends with Ines in a better place, Ade is also smart enough to retain a hint of ambiguity. Ines is, after all, still working the same job, still peddling on the same cutthroat capitalist treadmill, only at another company. She puts Toni Erdmann’s false buckteeth into her own mouth but then takes them out again. Ines’ future, like that of our modern world, is uncertain. Did I mention this movie is hilarious?

Toni Erdmann opens in Chicago at the Music Box Theatre on Friday, January 27.

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About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

22 responses to “Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann

  • The Best Films of the Year So Far | White City Cinema

    […] “The poignant father/daughter relationship at its core is as universal and timeless as that of Yasujiro Ozu’s Late Spring (although it is also given a refreshingly female-centric spin by its female writer/director).” Review here. […]

  • My Top 50 Films of 2017 | White City Cinema

    […] 4. Toni Erdmann (Ade, Germany) – Music BoxThe film that made everyone’s best-of list last year didn’t receive its Chicago premiere until early 2017. Yep, I love it too and reviewed it on this blog at the beginning of the year here. […]

  • Sebin PS

    Toni Erdmann is a 2016 Drama/Comedy film by the German film director Maren Ade. Toni Erdmann is the alter ego of Winfried, the prankster father of the main character of the movie, Ines. The film is very polarizing to the audience in terms of whether or not it is a comedy or more of a drama. The underlying theme of the movie is undoubtedly sad – an estranged father trying to reconnect with his very “unhuman” daughter (Winfried asks whether Ines is ‘even human’ in disgust, while her coworkers compliments she is an ‘animal’ – for being so cold hearted but making excellent financial decisions for the company). Winfried tries to reconnect with Ines through invading into her life with pranks and jokes, and trying to teach her certain lessons in learning to take things less seriously and what truly matters in life.

    The scene where Ines makes her partner, who she considers inferior to her in ranks, ejaculate into a cupcake is – as said the blog post – bizarre. The purpose of the scene must be to show the kind of person Ines is. Earlier it is shown that although she is “dating” this fellow, Ines does not want others to know this – although it doesn’t matter at all to the management as no one really cares. She also doesn’t want him to be touching her in public or coming along with her as she makes a presentation to the company CEO who makes the ultimate decision. Ines is later treated by the same CEO very patronizingly. He assumes that since Ines is a woman, she must know all the shopping places and won’t have a problem taking his trophy wife out on shopping at the expensive mall nearby. These scenes shows the hierarchical abuse of power in the corporate world – Ines treats her subordinates the same way her superiors treat her, maybe worse.

    There is excellent use of contrast in the movie to show character dynamics and growth. There is a scene in the first-half of the movie that shows an awkward hug between Ines and Winfried. They hug too early to say goodbye and then awkwardly and silently wait for an elevator to arrive so the father can leave in it. The sad reality of the distance between the father and daughter is shown, but for the audience it’s a funny scene until you think about it a little. Then there is a very contrasting hug at the end of the movie when Ines realizes she loves her dad for what he has done for her and this time it is not half-assed and the two embrace each other like they mean it. The contrast between the two really shows how much the character has changed over the course of the movie.

  • Abbas Jaffri

    Toni Erdmann is one of the most influential movies I have seen so far. It is a comedy movie but it tells a grieving story of a father who like to play practical jokes and trying very hard to spend some time with his hard working daughter. When he was not successful, he started to disguise himself as a stranger just to be around her. These incidents with her daughter create an awkward humor in the movie but also shows the loneliness of an old person. His daughter is not happy with this idea. Also, she feel embarrass when ever he is around. This is a true depiction of our society at some level where elders try to stay close to their offsprings but younger generation often seem to avoid them and also feel embarrassed when they are around. Specially the teenagers. The movie has some intense and unpleasantly funny scenes. Especially the nude scenes where Ines organize an office party at her house but get so frustrated by the pressure of her work and life that she start hosting her guests naked and tell them that it is a nude party, they need to take off their clothes as well if they want to stay. Usually nudity creates a sexual appeal to cater the desire of the audience with such content. Mostly of male audience. Despite the sequence of those scenes is long but it was not sexual in any manner instead it was awkward and hilarious. May be it is because the movie is directed by a female director (Maren Ade) and she does not want to objectify women but rather use it to create a different atmosphere to show the frustration and anger of the character. The cinematography and acting is fascinating but I find the movie a bit longer. Overall a great piece of work!

  • Jose Colon

    So far out of all of the movies that have been featured in this class, I would have to say Toni Erdmann is on the top three on my list and the movie I found myself relating to more so often than not. Since I was prepped before the movie and given some insight on the background of the film, It was easier for me to understand the relationship between Ines and Winfried, being as complicated as it was. The Father, Daughter relationship portrayed in Toni Erdmann was quite on point. I thought Maren Ade did a wonderful job in capturing the small moments between Ines and Winfried or “Toni”, it made the long quiet moments in between scenes make sense. I usually find quiet moments awkward in movies if they aren’t integrated into the film properly.

    I had mentioned earlier how I had found myself relating to this film. The main aspect of the film, which I found to be the relationship between Ines and Winfried. I had an uncle I use to be very embarrassed of because he would always fuck with me and pull all these jokes on me which made our relationship like Ines and her fathers. Eventually I was not looking forward to family parties and gatherings because i just did not want to deal with his non sense. I totally understood Ines. I was actually relieved when she was finally giving in to Toni and his jokes.

    In my humble opinion, Ines was a unique character. The decisions she made in the movie could be questionable to others but to some she may just have been living a little. Sure she may have seemed weak but who doesn’t at times. I like how she was loosening up throughout the film, it was nice to see a positive transformation in the film. All in all, Toni Erdmann was a phenomenal film with a unique set of characters and an interesting plot line.

  • Ken K

    “Toni Erdmann” is a German-Austrian comedy-drama film directed by Maren Ade and released in 2016. The movie follows a father and daughter whose outlook on life are very different and as a result, they clash throughout the film. The father is a music teacher while the daughter is a businesswoman that works a lot. At first, she is reluctant to meet up with him but she eventually relents. Afterwards, the father repeatedly starts inserting himself into her life more, even adopting a fake persona and accompanies her to her job. Throughout the film, it seems like the father is trying to gauge whether she is really happy at her job and lifestyle, and once he realizes that she’s not, he tries to convince her that maybe the way she lives is wrong. Naturally, this results in her and the father fighting and arguing throughout the film. Towards the end, she seems to realize that she doesn’t like how she is living this corporate lifestyle, and when she hosts a party for her coworkers, she makes it a “naked party”, effectively turning off all of her coworkers. Towards the end, she has seemed to reconcile with her father and has made a career shift, hopefully for the better, although it doesn’t seem to have a clear resolution. The main themes that I took from watching the film were commentary on capitalism and the pursuit of happiness. The father doesn’t think she’s happy and tries to steer her towards her own path towards happiness and fulfillment. It’s also a commentary on capitalism and the corporate business world because throughout the film, it seems to show this lifestyle and job in a negative light, and shows how it is stressing out the daughter by doing this kind of job. Overall, I found it to be pretty enjoyable, although I don’t think it was very comedic, even though it’s supposed to be a comedy/drama film. It had some funny moments, but it was more awkward moments that had humor in them. It seemed more like a slice of life story, a film about life in general to me.

  • Kevin Sudie

    This film was an interesting take on the father-daughter relationship while also commenting on the state of the global economic market’s treatment of workers. However, I think the main theme of this movie is the use of humor to cure sadness. Early in the movie, Winfried is covered in skeleton face paint for a children’s play at his school. This odd, macabre moment is an allusion to the death of his dog later in the movie, which causes Winfried much sadness and to want to be with his daughter. It is not until he starts following his daughter, Ines, that he discovers she is not happy at her current job. He then takes it upon himself to help her, but in fact he is actually helping himself forget about his dog and death in general. The open-endedness of the state of Ines, the fact that she remains in the same business and still basically has no friends or love interests, goes to show that the main beneficiary of the Toni Erdmann character is actually Winfried himself.

  • Sana Lalani

    “Toni Erdmann” is probably one of my favorite movies that I have watched in this class so far. Although the pacing was similar to that of “Neighboring Sounds,” I enjoyed more than “Neighboring Sounds.” I think it is because I enjoyed the plotline. I’m glad that it was not rushed because each scene was important to the character build up as well as the development between Ines and herself, Ines and her coworkers, and Ines and her father.
    The film was very different than how I had expected it to be. For some reason, I expected the film to be more lively, but I think that is because I’m used to Hollywood comedy. I think we are so used to seeing a set type of comedy, so that is what I expected to see. None the less, I thought the film was funny. Therefore, I agree that the film was a comedy, however, I also thought it had an element from Bollywood cinema which was the concept of multiple genres and tonal shifts. An example would be the scenes from the day of Ines’ birthday party. During Ines’ breakdown, it was funny, but when she went out to see her father who was in that brown suit, it was pretty dramatic.
    I agree that Ade left the ending with ambiguity because I personally thought that Ines was in a better place now. Just by her demeanor because she seemed more calm with herself than she was stressed. In the beginning, it seemed she was carrying a weight on her shoulder wherever she went, but in the end she seemed more relaxed. Although she is working at a new place, I think she is more knowledgeable of who she is and her relationship with her father has improved. I think she has changed as a person because when she saw her father down, she put in his false teeth to kind of lighten up his mood after the funeral. However, as discussed in class, someone else interpreted her as not having changed at all since she is still doing the same job. I on the other hand beg to differ. I think she has changed, and I do not think it was the job that was the problem, but more so who she was working with and if she was able to move up from her position. Also, her underlying issue was within herself and how she always cared for what others thought and expected from her. Her coworker, Gerald, was not very supportive of her leveling up, and her clients looked down upon her efforts. It could be that the same could happen to her in the new workplace, but I think the difference is that she cares less of what others think of her.

  • Mark Badel

    Toni Erdmann had everything going for it to be a bad movie. A screwball comedy with the epic runtime of 2 hours and 42 minutes. I expected it to be some sort of foreign film with inside jokes us in the states would not understand. I was just hoping that every minute of it was interesting and that I would not be left behind bored halfway through. To my delight, none of the negatives I expected came true. The runtime was absolutely perfect and every single minute of it was exciting and kept you hooked in. The jokes that were used in the film were very easy to understand and there were no inside jokes that only Europeans would be in the know. To my absolute surprise, the comedy format worked well in the epic runtime, nothing felt dragged out or useless. I honestly feel that every single minute of the film was needed, if anything cut out, it would seriously ruin the effect that the movie has on the audience.

    You get so attached to the characters while watching this movie. Perhaps it was the ingenious directing and editing, or the incredible acting. You could seriously feel the emotion coming from Ines’ father Winfried. You know right away that he seriously cares about his daughter and her wellbeing and he goes VERY out of his way to make her feel happy and understand the meaning of life. At first she doesn’t take and you will probably hate her for the most part of the movie. Eventually though she becomes a character that you really like.

    After hearing that this movie will be adapted into a Hollywood film, I really think they will screw it up. I don’t believe it will be directed by Maren Ade, but even if it was the film would most likely have to be cut down very short. I honestly wholeheartedly believe that this will ruin the film. You need that extra time to learn about the characters and see the two different worlds they live in. There are so many precious moments in this movie that are only precious because of the buildup before them. I guess the only good thing that will come out of this movie being made in Hollywood is it will deter other foreign directors from selling the rights to their film to Hollywood.

  • Robert Shaf

    I did not know what to expect going into Toni Erdmann seeing that it was almost three hours long. After watching it, I can definitely say that every minute of it was essential for the movie. I think the movie was definitely a comedy. I thought the father’s pranks were pretty humorous and it made it even funnier when other people didn’t enjoy them. However, the movie was also pretty sad. Throughout the entire movie, an estranged father was trying to reconnect with his daughter who doesn’t really have a heart. Ines has no problem firing people to make the company better off and she doesn’t want to spend time with her father, Winfried.
    Even though I think Ines didn’t really change by the end of the movie, her relationship definitely grew with her father and they had a closer bond by the end. I believe she started to change her relationship with Winfried when she started going along with his alter-ego, Toni Erdmann. This also made the father feel better since he started to connect with his daughter more, even though in an odd way. I think the climax of the movie was when Ines hugged her dad in the park. This was when they truly developed a closer bond and a better relationship. This scene was huge for the development of both characters.
    When we discussed how they’re making Toni Erdmann into a Hollywood film, I don’t really know how to feel about that. I really like Jack Nicholson as an actor and I think he would play the father perfectly. However, I don’t think Hollywood’s version will run almost three hours long and that’s going to take away a lot of the substance of this version of the movie that made it special. I’ll still probably see it but I’m going into it with lower expectations since I think they will dumb it down a lot.

  • Madeline Morse

    When watching Toni Erdmann, thinking from an American viewpoint that it’ll be along the lines of a screwball comedy, I felt as if I was watching the wrong film. Between a dog dying and the mistreatment of a parent my emotions were anything but lighthearted. After thinking about the film over the past few days and thinking how cooperate America or global corporations for that matter seem to drain the personality from individuals, I start to see the humor that Winfried, more so Toni Erdmann brought to the screen. He and his relationship with Ines embodied a real life father-daughter relationship; perhaps that is why my emotions were so high. It felt like I was watching a real family dynamic, not only because the acting but also the use of the shooting the film with a hand held camera. I feel the ending of the film is more realistic and relatable than any other moment. We are left at family gathering after the death of Winfried’s mother. Ines expresses she has changed jobs, not fields but companies, so she would be moving again. She follows Winfried down to his mother’s belongings, perhaps a father just wanting to have a moment with his daughter, when Ines grabs Toni Erdmann’s false teeth, her grandmother’s hat, and puts on both. By this act she is showing her father she is okay and most important she is happy, which is what her father wanted all along.

  • Johnny Bear

    My first thoughts when watching Toni Erdmann for the first time weren’t necessarily positive. I personally struggled with the idea of this movie and a comedy, and going into it with that expectation may have caused some issues for me while viewing it. That being said, I did appreciate some very key parts of the movie. The nude birthday party scene may be one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen in a long time and was well worth the wait in regards to it’s position in this long film. Another aspect of the film I was fond of was the way the movie was filmed. The handheld cameras used for filming were noticeable at first glance, but eventually as the movie progressed I got more and more used to it. Towards the end of the movie it got to the point I forgot it was being filmed that way. I think this does help make this film feel real, which is quite the accomplishment as some of the situations created by Winfried’s “Toni Erdmann” alter-ego are absolutely absurd. Overall though, I think the thematic points of loving yourself, corporate capitalism, and the father-daughter dynamic were orchestrated in ways that weren’t very on the nose. The strange sexual encounter with the cupcakes would be a good example of this as I was more or less confused while viewing but I do agree with the idea that this might be a way of Ine’s trying to “control the narrative”. Although I struggle to call this movie a comedy, I will say that the movie is masterfully filmed and written, and I’m glad that I did experience viewing it at least once.

  • Ana J Montes

    The film Toni Erdmann was a bit strange for me because I didn’t understand it completely in my mind. After reading this review of the movie and letting the movie sink into my mind I have come to understand it better. One can definitely tell in the beginning of the movie that Winfried and Ines’s relationship is strained. The way both of them talked to each other felt strange, Ines sounds serious while the dad just seem aloof. Whenever Winfried puts on his fake teeth Ines is not impressed at all, she looks annoyed by it. I admit the father did annoy me when he just popped into Ines life without telling her beforehand and is making her look bad in front of her coworkers and other companies. As the movie continued I was able to see how necessary the weird, funny dad was necessary to his stressed out daughter. Towards the end of the movie we see the daughter hugs her dad in a bulgarian furry outfit and wears his fake teeth in the closing scene. To me her wearing those fake teeth means she is living life more happily, yet she takes them off because she is still working in business, but with a different company.

    By watching the movie I saw the world of corporate business, one of the most obvious signs of a business is agreeing to the other person, even when you don’t because you want to make a deal with them. When talking to business partner Ines will change her mind to what the business partner means or wants because she wants to be in their favor, even if what the business partner says is something she doesn’t agree with. The review of this movie mentions the strange scene of her eating a small pastry with semen on it. I agree with the act of Ines eating it means she is in control of this situation, but is she really in control when her face looks disappointed. The naked birthday party scene is showing Ines is stripping away from the business world, after all the birthday party isn’t about her it’s just an excuse to team building and spirit. Later we find out she no longer works at her company she is working somewhere else doing the same thing. Ines doesn’t escape the corporate world, this time perhaps she will have some fun thanks to the help of her dad.

  • mariam saleem memon

    In my opinion this movie Toni Erdmann by Maren Ade 2016 was also hilarious comedy drama kind of movie. I really enjoyed watching this movie because it has all the aspects through an audience couldn’t get bored thou its a very long movie from the rest of movies I watched in the class but I think its really amazing because the story line is very good. Germany was the country where the film was made. main characters were the daughter Ines German business women to help save money it shot like a documentary just try to catch the action which is pretty ambiguous comedy the movie name Toni Erdmann is named after her father Winfried’s outclass funny kind of behavior with her daughter Ines. which is quiet interesting and a new kind of thing . basically the movie is screwball comedy means a comedy about the battle of sex’s man and women the premise is the man. so the starting is like a daughter named Ines is trying to help company to make more money and tell the oil company how much people we need to fire a corporate capitalism and in the other her father is all towards making everyone happy by his jokes and all of the sudden his dog died which was very emotional and then after that he decided to visit her daughter to Germany then the story becomes interesting because his father wants to spend all his vacation with her daughter who is actually busy in a very high pressure job takes pride in her appearance appearing her employees people she is working with her life is about to change because her father making her life hell like. her job is the reason why they deprived apart he actually adopt and alter ego not for her benefit but for his fake big teeth. which were so funny the sad part is when she was just telling her friends how bored she was when her father was their talking about life and all and all of it and she didn’t even knew that her father was behind her all dressed up with big teeth and he listened to everything which her daughter said and felt bad but acted very smartly ignoring what she said. both of them have different personalities daughter is more like serious kind of person and father is more like funny and happy kind of person. the people she hopes to impress are more taken by her father, despite his silly jokes and comedy he does, than they are by her. It is partly sexism, but also because Ines doesn’t believe in herself and Winfried couldn’t care less what anyone thinks except for her. movie is surprisingly very strange at point. I was so shocked when Ines had a nude party at her apartment like for real the most comedy part of the movie like I was laughing the whole time when the ones who were appearing at her party all nude and she made this plan last moment when she was frustrated trying to show her self elegant and what people wants she was just tried her best to do what other people not what she loves and enjoys that’s what her father was trying to tell her when she was at the club like after when her own father was also taking drugs with her and going to a club where she was not happy at all at the was time of the movie very heartbreaking like she was not at all happy. after that her birthday party she was like frustrated for trying her level best and there she decided to have a nude birthday party like I have never seen such scene in my entire life so hilarious and funny .In the end I would say I really love the part where his father was all dressed up as like hairy bear or monkey I don’t know it was so cute and emotional the way she hugged her dad. the ending of the film was quiet satisfying like INES got her lesson that life is life and we should enjoy our life very single moment and to make it a happy moment. like the way Ines wore his father fake teeth and her grandma’s hat like she got it that life is to appreciate what we have and to make our family happy and proud of our self and to respect our parents because they are reason we here standing on our feet’s so we should make them happy and live her life’s peacefully as we can by performing good deeds. I would definitely watch this movie again and would recommend this movie to all the hard workers out there to enjoy there life and not to take so much stress and stay happy and healthy.

  • Jessica R

    The movie Toni Erdmann is a screwball comedy that was uncomfortable to watch at times. I think the sex scenes were quite explicit and extreme. The overall film was realistic and relatable. I believe the audience can relate to the character of Ines. In our society where so much is expected of us, for example our careers, we are often pushed to the point where we neglect ourselves and family in order to try and impress or please our superiors. Ines was so caught up with her career that only her father played as “Toni Erdmann” could make her realize this. Once she is finally able to get a clearer picture on what her life has become and how much she has neglected her father, she throws her arms around him and only smiles, no words were necessary! The ending scene of her putting on her dad’s fake teeth was brilliantly shot. To me, she realizes that she needs to lighten up and enjoy life, also realizes that society is always going to have a high standard and we need to choose what’s more important to us.

  • Mo Siddiqui

    For me, this film was a bizarre taste of comedy. Yes, it did have some great humor moments, like Ines’s father following her around as Toni Erdmann and the naked party scene, which was really good because you see Ines has a mental breakdown and does something no one expects. This film is not all laughs as it touches some deep emotions about Ines and her father. We see a young woman, Ines, working her ass off to impress her bosses, clients, and family, but it doesn’t really go her way as she is just being pushed around and because of that she is not happy or enjoy life. Then there is her father who notices that her daughter isn’t happy and does his best to make it right, he even goes above and beyond for it with the big furry costume. One unique thing this film does is it shows a relationship between a father and daughter and this is unique because you don’t necessarily see that in many films, most of the time its father and son, mother and son or even mother and daughter, but father and daughter is something touching to watch. Nonetheless, this film wasn’t a complete comedy it had some sad and touching moments, like the ending in which Ines accepts her dad’s efforts and knows to enjoy life and not stress out.

  • Bryan Peterson

    I quite enjoyed Toni Erdmann. While I did not find it hilarious I did find a a lot of the movie humorous or enjoyable. Personally I feel like the fact that I was not rolling on the the floor laughing is a good thing. this is because the movie is almost three hours long and I hate it when comedy movies outstay their welcome. However that never happened with Toni Erdmann, I think that the reason for that is that the movie knows when to take a couple of steps back and become serious. This helps because it let’s you connect to the characters and somewhat understand what they are going through, this is not the case with most modern day movies. The movie has also taught me that I should keep in contact with my parents more often because I don’t want to end up like Ines and randomly have one of my parents give me a surprise visit and start following me around using a fake name (which I can actually see my dad doing). All in all this movie felt like a realistic comedy about the relationship between a father and his over worked, over stressed daughter and how the became close again.

  • John Kappos

    Toni Erdmann was unique, Not only because they applied the dynamic of a screwball comedy to a father and daughter but also because of the length and how the movie switches from a goofy comedy to a deeper more depressing movie to be honest. In the beginning when Winfried introduced us to his characters and his personality I thought this might be one of my favorite movies. The Petit four scene really flipped this movie on its head for me. For the rest of the movie I tried to figure out what significance this scene had and how the movie would be different if they cut that scene. Your review helped explain why it was significant, showing Ines willing to do whatever she has to for her career and just how over her head she was. Toni’s antics were not as funny as they were bizarre, he acted like a middle finger to the corporate world that took itself too seriously. Ines finally stops taking herself so seriously and has her naked birthday party which is like an actual rebirth for her. Toni’s costume at her party was very creepy and the fact that he didn’t say a word made it more ominous. My favorite part of the movie is when Ines puts in the fake teeth and the hat and trudges into the garden, perhaps showing us her with a new perspective in life.

  • Graeme McCrory

    Comedy lives and dies on whether or not the jokes land for any given person. Outside of I think one scene (the nude party mentioned) none of the jokes landed for me and read more as sad and tragic. In this sense Toni Erdmann fails for me. As a comedy. As a somewhat uniquely structured and paced character study it undoubtedly lands. Any time the movie made a joke (almost always through Toni making a joke) it read more as a pathetic attempt by a father desperately trying to reconnect with his daughter that he knows nothing about. I found that desperation to be overpowering of any comedy in the scenes, but I think it works to encourage us to side with Toni in his quest to rekindle a relationship. The major exception to this sadness over laughter for me was during the nude party scene. I think this point represents the culmination of Toni’s efforts throughout the movie to rekindle his relationship with Ines and help her find happiness again. The shear absurdity of this scene I think would be a challenge for just about anyone to keep themselves from laughing.

  • Nancy Patel

    Watching Toni Erdmann it made me think of my relationship with my father. It is one of the class films that I enjoyed watching. I wouldn’t say that the whole movie was hilarious but I think after Winfired started to disguises himself it became hilarious. As stated Ines tries to “control the narrative”. This is shown not only with the client but also with her father. For example, the first time Winfired visits his daughter unannounced, she tells him exactly how to behave and act in front of people she introduces. She takes him everywhere with her but he can’t behave himself because she has instructed him not to. She is trying to get control over his unusual quality. Throughout the film, it is to be seen that Ines was much like her father. Winfried takes a disguise of “Toni Erdmann” to teach his daughter how to love herself. He pretends to be someone else. Where on the other hand she is being someone else to in order to impress her boss and clients. Like when she shows fake enthusiasm for shopping with a client’s wife, to gain his trust. During her birthday brunch, she is dressed in professional attire, and she gets frustrated and just takes it out, showing that she is done being someone else and wants to be herself, and didn’t care what the society thought. Like she accepts her to be herself, she also accepts her father to be who he is. I think the film also gives out the message to accept your loves the way they.

  • Walter Martos Cram

    I’m not really sure I agree with the statement that the movie is about Ines’s father, Winfried, teaching his daughter to “love herself”. Although loving herself is indeed part of what he tries to teach, it’s merely a piece and not the whole picture. I agree that she does not love herself since she tells her boss that if she was in any way a feminist, she would not work for him. We can also see how she loathes herself when she cries by herself after chasing her father away. In my opinion, ever since he noticed that his daughter lied to the family that she was busy on the phone to avoid interacting with the family, Winfried had already noticed that Ines did not enjoy life, I think that was most apparent when Winfried asked Ines “are you even human?” Such a heavy question that demonstrated how robotic Ines was acting. I agree that this movie heavily criticizes capitalism by emphasizing how uncaring the people of authority are to their employee’s fates and only care about themselves. I don’t agree that the ending is ambiguous at all, I even think that it reflects human nature very well. Even though Ines is in a better place, it’s not easy to change, especially after you’ve spent a lot of effort to reach where you are. So even though it’s a job that she hates, she doesn’t know how to fundamentally change. At least that’s how I interpreted the ending of the movie

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