Toni Erdmann Screen 61 articles

Toni Erdmann


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  • Loved the party scene, which is legitimately mad and spontaneous, but none of the rest really clicked for me. The fact that Dad brings nothing, except a kind of stumbling humanity - he doesn't become an unlikely hero, like Chance the gardener - is poignant in retrospect, as if to say his daughter is stirred by how pathetic his deception is, but also makes those scenes a bit of a slog, and there's also a slightly maudlin undertow insofar as he's a clown who's crying on the inside.

  • The comedy of “Toni Erdmann” is so on-the-nose, so constrainedly linked to specific points that its writer and director, Maren Ade, is making, that it stays on the safe and solid edge of the treacherous psychological terrain that it hints at.

  • The film, pitting a lovable sad clown ex-hippie against strawman capitalists, forestalls the invitation to audience reflection that creates real queasy stick-in-your-throat laughter. Lacking anything to disturb its basic binary or to put a complacent viewer momentarily on their back foot, there’s little here that lifts the ongoing game of farcical imposture and father-daughter sparring above briskly repetitive actor’s exercises. When it’s not funny, it’s not much.

  • While it meanders and gets listless in a few places, Ade largely makes up for those setbacks with charged emotion that seemingly materializes out of nowhere... Ade pushes the material to a breaking point and doesn't stop, but even as "Toni Erdmann" outstays its welcome, that reinforces its central focus on what it means to do just that.

  • Ade keeps things moving along very nicely indeed, increasingly (and very successfully) slipping into the comedic mode as the film proceeds to its quietly affecting conclusion.

  • One song choice should perhaps not be spoiled, but — after Everybody Else‘s killer deployment of “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before” — confirms Ade as scarily skilled around at taking ubiquitous ’80s tunes and permanently rewiring their connotations.

  • Yes, it's very good, and it's very funny, and I enjoyed every minute of it, but I also wonder whether the superlatives it's elicited aren't evidence that film critics don't often enough watch really funny movies.

  • The tension between the central father and daughter duo feels spun from a unique cultural perspective, with plot turns predicated on European corporate culture and the “lesser” strata of labour it leans on or leaves behind, as well as softly-delivered punchlines at its expense.

  • I liked, rather than loved, this one. Certain passages are very inspired and even in the less inspired sequences I could appreciate the construction, the timing. The overall dynamic is intriguing, subtle, and moving--Ade is incredible at zeroing in on characters who are deeply lonely. I am not sure that I always kept on the film's frequency, however, and couldn't be sure if my confusion at times was a desired effect or a sign of mismatch.

  • At 162 minutes, this episodic, slow-building study of reluctantly shared depression is baggy, yes, but necessarily so: The film takes precisely as much time as it needs for its muddled, maddeningly human characters, played with extraordinary courage and invention by Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller, to find their way into each other, and so into themselves.

  • It’s about the magic of movies themselves, about how role-play and acting can be used as tools to explore unchartered emotional terrain and see life anew. This is cinema as portal for lost memories. It’s the product of a master filmmaker.

  • It contains all the material to provide us with a super-bleak depiction of the effect of managerial culture on social relationships – something that, here, it takes compassionate buffoon Winfried to cut through, not unlike the hero of Ken Loach’s similarly humane competition entry I, Daniel Blake. But the comic flourishes and outrageous situational wit of Toni Erdmann are little less than magical.

  • Though these scenes can be very difficult to watch – some are downright excruciating – they offer a sharply incisive, if extreme, representation of the conflict between one’s natural obligations to their parents and the difficulty of actually fulfilling them as an independent adult. Ade’s script is a paragon of complex, nuanced characterizations.

  • This immensely talented director brings to each and every social interaction an observant, unmannered, and utterly spot-on evocation of what each person is thinking and feeling... Maren Ade proves herself a modest master of observation, letting us find on our own, casually and never didactically, how everyone in a scene is responding to each other and the circumstance.

  • I can’t accurately count how many times the film signaled to me that it was going to move one way only to step perpendicular to that expectation, but by the film’s midway point I eased into the realization that this film could and would go anywhere, and anywhere indeed it went.

  • The aspirational nature of identity — what we are, what we think we are, what we wish we were, and how others see us — has been Ade's great theme across her three features to date. As a writer and director, she is a supernaturally gifted behavioralist, unafraid to let her scenes ramble on, and on, secure in the knowledge that we will find these characters and situations as fascinating as she does. And she’s right.

  • A standout sequence comes toward the end, when the film gently, and unexpectedly, slips into the surreal. The gambit works because Ade's always possessed as fine an instinct for calibrating the emotions of her characters as any working director, and because her film is all about rewarding leaps of faith. Likewise, scenes that can occasionally feel like they're going on too long, pay off with patience, eventually hitting just the right payoff or grace note.

  • Trust in the creative impulse informs every aspect of the film, from Ade’s dazzling script which has just enough of a classical comedic structure to support two hours and 42 minutes of surprises big and small, to her direction, which is designed to liberate the actors as much as possible while the camera rolls, to the performances (Simonischek and Hüller seem to be as amazed as we are by the things their characters lead them to do).

  • Moments of pain and humor are interwoven throughout Ade’s dramatic and hilarious new movie as Ines and Winfried spar and share. Father and daughter struggle with how to relate to each other. Their outlooks have evolved to the point where the differences between them are striking, and there’s an increasingly poignant interplay at work exploring how each is navigating their personal and professional lives.

  • Ade is in control every instant, and the minutes fly by. To say Toni Erdmann is funny doesn’t even begin to capture the out-there texture of the jokes, and of the actors’ timing.

  • Since the charm and genius of this film is in what you don’t see coming, I won’t say more about the story. But Ade’s panache with structure and her nose for a perfect take are matched by the impeccable comic timing of her two leads Sandra Hüller and Peter Simonischek. It would be easy to pigeonhole this as just one of the greatest German film comedies, but it’s more than that.

  • Ade is an artist of incredible confidence and cinematic intelligence, emerging with a narrative feature that’s as potent as one could hope to find in contemporary cinema... Despite its length, Toni Erdmann is a high-wire act of narrative economy and sustained humor, balanced by grace, insight, and finally, poignancy. Rare is the film that with every seemingly familiar setup and at every precarious juncture makes not only the right decision, but the wholly unexpected and exhilarating one as well.

  • Ade's persistence and work paid off, because long after this year’s juries have disbanded and the world has forgotten who won this year’s awards, the 2016 edition will best be remembered as the year Ms. Ade gave us “Toni Erdmann,” a work of great beauty, great feeling and great cinema.

  • The genius of Toni Erdmann is the way it simultaneously deepens the central relationship while widening in scope to consider the dehumanizing toll of corporate culture, the insidious creep of globalization, the tragicomedy of generational estrangement, the demands on women in the workplace, and so much more.

  • To say that Simonischek and Hüller are great is to put it mildly and state the obvious: in such an undertaking, where everything is risked at every moment, they have to be great or else. Toni Erdmann is filled with grand comic inventions, and it encompasses so many strands of experience that it eats the material of several decades of movies for breakfast.

  • For a previous example of a German comedy that was actually funny we probably have to go back to Lubitsch (and even he decamped for Hollywood at the first opportunity), but Ade’s third film convincingly disproves the stereotype of the humourless Teuton.

  • The effect is open and completely unpredictable. Ade does not offer a linear narrative. Every scene contains countless small and large movements and counter-movements that guide the course taken by the characters – driving Winfried and Ines into situations as funny as they are painful.

  • A singular mix of hard-nosed ambition, melancholic outsider awkwardness and an almost self-destructive resignation in following things through to their extreme ends, she is one of the most baffling, intriguing female characters in screen memory... It’s a German comedy that’s as deeply touching as it is bizarre and emotionally insightful, with a party scene that will leave you in stitches.

  • Toni Erdmann, even if it’s not a comedy per se, is at times laugh-out-loud funny; it’s genuinely unpredictable, especially in its climactic act (an uproarious set-piece party that, however tempted I may be, I shall not spoil); it features two crackerjack lead performances from Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller; and finally, there’s the fact that pretty much every critic, wherever they are from, is a child, a parent, or both, and on this count the film tugs at the heartstrings pretty hard.

  • The film is a study in contrasts: corporate seriousness versus free-spirited buffoonery, man versus woman, intentions versus results. In less capable hands, it could easily become a saccharine family fable or a gross-out comedy, but Ade manages to find her own strange niche, bolstered by some memorable set pieces involving a father-daughter duet and a provocative, nightmarish party.

  • This is an inspired oedipal film — a drama with funny moments, according to director Ade, that keeps its momentum through the broadness of the humor; and well-researched details about the new imperialistic capitalism flowing from Germany to Eastern Europe, in line with a model of exploitation and inhuman efficiency that would have made Darwin proud.

  • Ines’s unblinking commitment to the part in the not-sex scene sets up the even more astonishing bits to come, including the Whitney Houston vamp and an unfathomably long party sequence that achieves true, Surrealist strangeness and velocity. In a year where masters from Paul Verhoeven to Cristi Puiu have invoked Buñuel, Ade’s absurdist brunch gathering might actually come the closest to the Spanish master’s mixture of satirical, carnivalesque glee and purple-bruised humanity.

  • Like Ade’s last film Everyone Else, this is a two-hander relationship saga with acute powers of social observation. Also under Ade’s microscope are the divisions between new and old Europe and the glass ceiling in the business world. Most of all, though, it’s a film about the joy of larking about. Comedies are naturally best served on the big screen; outrageous ones like this even more so. During one scene I laughed so hard tears squirted out of my eyes.

  • For about an hour, Toni Erdmann is a queasy comedy of estrangement, laced with easy digs at the finance class and the folly of work-life balance. Its wry physical comedy and professional striving echoes the themes and hijinks of 1990s comedies... The second half is exquisitely calibrated, with Ade dismantling the story’s themes of corporate greed, sexism, and familial estrangement until the film gradually approaches the sublime.

  • The premise of screwball is a bit of a Jonsonian power trip. We’re asked to sympathize with people who have enough leisure and money to punk everyone around them. The cruelty of the put-on, with trusting characters gulled by free spirits, is built into the genre. In Toni Erdmann we have to be ready to accept not only the deflation of a CEO, which is always fun, but also the terrorization of working stiffs like delivery men and mechanics.

  • The movie works broadly in a classical-realist mode. This sets it apart from — and ostensibly renders it more “conventional” than — so much festival/art-house cinema ... And yet, while embracing certain “traditional” values, the film also pushes them so far that they emerge into a space that is qualitatively different from what we encounter in 99% of realist cinema. Call it a revelatory supra-reality that feels genuinely bizarre and dangerous — and yet carries a potent ring of truth.

  • A critical hit at Cannes, Telluride and Toronto, this unclassifiable third feature from German writer-director Maren Ade miraculously synthesizes prankish comedy, family drama and corporate satire into a singular whole.

  • An increasingly wild and wooly—and ultimately quite moving—comedy about the difficult relationship between a disreputable aging hippie and his severely buttoned-down daughter, a polished paradigm of the corporate world. That most of it is set in Bucharest, Romania adds to the strange fairytale ambience.

  • The movie boasts a script that's hyper-constructed yet always free-flowing, two faultless, effortlessly varied performances by Sandra Hüller and Peter Simonischek, and a trenchant understanding of how late-phase capitalism hollows out the individual that's as wryly funny as it is unbearable. Yet what's most remarkable about Maren Ade's third feature is the idea that the true essence of family relationships can only be revealed via performance.

  • The film is resolutely new and unexpected, yet somehow classical, echoing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jerry Lewis’s The Nutty Professor, Renoir’s Boudu and Dr. Cordelier, and any movie in which someone dons a gorilla suit.

  • The film simultaneously explores universal questions of what it means to be happy, what is worth living for. Sure, these are big questions indeed, and Ade isn’t necessarily offering up any answers, but, with a truly unique script, definitive characterization, and plenty of surprises, Toni Erdmann delivers one of the most enthralling and moving cinematic engagements of the year.

  • The praise is well-deserved, as Toni Erdmann is a true original, an anarchic comedy that, while being a relationship movie about a father and daughter, is equaling about the soul-crushing modern business world and trying to stay sane within it, which Ade suggests may demand a certain amount of insanity.

  • It represents a major leap forward for Ade as an artist. This is partly because it's funnier, sadder, and more expansive, but those qualities, I think, result from one significant change. Here, Ade pulls back to provide a broader social context for her protagonists. While the folks in the previous films were not reducible to type, exactly, here they are full-flesh human beings who are navigating broad structures that are much broader than themselves.

  • Well before Ines has been goaded into singing history's most resentful cover of “The Greatest Love of All” to a roomful of strangers, Simonischek and Hüller have betrayed for us a world of under-expressed emotions. The loping, observational style of Ade's camera is upended by the film's swift, intuitive cutting, which, throughout the many delicious exchanges of dialogue, reorients a moment's suspense yet again on the question of how, why, and when it's okay to laugh.

  • That Ade can expertly integrate incisive social commentary into this film’s frequent lowbrow idiocy—“Toni Erdmann,” as a character, is only a notch or two less ridiculous and more civilized than Andy Kaufman’s alter ego, Tony Clifton—is little short of miraculous. Indeed, Toni Erdmann boasts a tonal range that no other movie this year can match.

  • Delving into microeconomics and macroaggressions, Toni Erdmann, the dynamite, superbly acted third feature from writer-director Maren Ade, is social studies at its finest. This quicksilver, emotionally astute comedy operates on many different registers and moods: Whoopee cushions and gag teeth are part of the fun, but so is a piquant dissection of father-daughter bonds and of the sinister banality of corporate consultancy.

  • It’s rare that a film can have one of its characters pose a question that so baldly states its larger philosophical concerns—What does it mean to be human and how should a human being live?—without seeming overly obvious or sanctimonious. But Toni Erdmann gets away with it, in part because its characters are so complex and precisely drawn (we are fully persuaded that this father would ask his daughter that) and in part because the film is at once so understated, so broad, and so funny.

  • It's a film from which we can start, however belatedly, to reconsider the endless potential of cinema in the life of a continent that, after succumbing to capitalist fundamentalism, is once again facing the very realistic threat of fascistic totalitarianisms. A cinema that can be urgent and (subversively) entertaining at the same time, where form and content are not theoretical excuses but practical contingencies.

  • If the cultural premises of Toni Erdmann are so intrinsically unavoidable—I haven’t read a single review where the film’s German-ness goes unmentioned—then Ade has succeeded in transforming a very country-specific sentiment into a universal and empathetic experience. Viewers and characters collide awkwardly against each other like loose balls on a pool table for nearly three hours; the result is explosive, and touching at the same time.

  • I found this appealing and funny and major not only for the father-daughter stuff but also for Ade’s really dead-on portrayal of gender dynamics in multi-national corporate horror settings.

  • Ok, I admit, the creative potential of ultra-realist narrative cinema hasn’t been exhausted completely, yet. Ade puts performance (the instantiation of pure unreality within a “realist” story) front and centre: a breakthrough, that provokes interrogation about the relationship between cinema and reality; and it’s intensely pleasurable at the same time.

  • The brilliance of Maren Ade‘s screenplay lies in its eventual revelation that Ines is just as full of surprises as her prankster father, Winfried. Not the song, not the party, necessarily, but more the complexity of her unhappiness and the tiny acts of revenge she takes on herself for giving in, bit by bit and on a variety of fronts, to the indignities she sees as the price of the ticket she’s bought.

  • That Maren Ade’s sprawling, meticulously messy comedy of manners manages to make us care deeply about characters who are essentially archetypes is key to its unusual charm, but more importantly, it puts them at the center of a non-moralizing morality play about economic global realities that comes by its laughs honestly and unpredictably.

  • ++

    Film Comment: Molly Haskell
    January 03, 2017 | January/February 2017 Issue (p. 46)

    It is the comic genius of the film that our sympathies are constantly tested, and twisted, in scenes that are by turns hilarious, excruciating, terrifying, and finally, deeply moving. The father is Boudu redux, a cataclysmic force of nature unleashed upon the soulless, weightless world of global capitalism. At last, the two desperate souls converge, and nature—love, trees, soil—proves weightier than the tallest concrete and glass skyscraper.

  • As corporate-climbing daughter and clownish father, Sandra Hüller and Peter Simonischek are deeply in tune with one another, fiercely committed to director Maren Ade's free-flowing, unorthodox scene construction, and brilliant in fleshing out their respective character quirks (so good, in fact, that they disguise the fact that precious few supporting players have comparable dimensionality).

  • Just as Winfried gleefully eschews accepted codes of behavior, Ade similarly throws the rulebook of conventional storytelling out the window. Coming in at just under three hours, Toni Erdmann takes the time it needs—no less, no more—to thoroughly unpack the nuances of this particular (and unceasingly peculiar) father-daughter relationship.

  • What follows is a crackling series of extended vignettes that thrive on revealing contradiction, skewering everything from corporate greed to global outsourcing. Conversations about trivial things are merely negotiations of power in disguise. Watching Ines in her natural habitat, Winfried struggles to reconcile the compromises of character she makes both in her personal and professional life.

  • There is an extraordinary level of attentiveness and restraint to Ade’s regard here. On the one hand, this is a matter of camerawork and editing that always respect the evolving moment. On the other, it’s a matter of a screenplay that refuses to take even standard shortcuts to hit its beats.

  • Make no bones about it, on first viewing, Toni Erdmann is as strange, delightful and dementedly funny as the hype has it. But repeat watching reveals a film that plays first as comedy, then as tragedy.

  • When asked to reduce Toni Erdmann to its essential outline, the German actor Sandra Hüller, who plays Ines, described it as: “a father visits his daughter at her workplace”. But part of the tremendous appeal of Toni Erdmann is its resistance to such plot condensation. Instead, the complex relationship between Ines and her father Winfried unfurls slowly across 162 minutes of sprawling narrative that took director Maren Ade two years and two pregnancies to write.

  • The question of seeing/not seeing, recognising or not, posturing, presenting the fake to uncover the truth, is at the core of Maren Ade’s 162 minute exhilarating comedy, Toni Erdmann. As much as a film between father and daughter, this is a film about the travails and joy of performance and the power of cinema – seen from the point of view of the daughter.

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