Toni Erdmann (15)

Toni Erdmann (15)

Directed by Maren Ade
Picturehouse, Liverpool
From 3rd February 2017

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is an oddball movie par excellence for the most part, even more so that it is described as a ‘German comedy.’

Director Maren Ade shot 120 hours of footage and spent over a year editing the film into its final cut.

It is a slight quibble but the 160 minutes of the finished version could have been trimmed by another 15 minutes or so, with there being too much emphasis in the closing stages of a facile enactment of an extraordinary and hard to fathom birthday party in the apartment of Ines (Sandra Huller).

Ines is the daughter of Winfried (Peter Simonischek), an elderly clown-like figure, who dons wigs and large false teeth, etc, in order to play tricks on her while she is working as an high-ranking management consultant in Romania.

By wearing these disguises he transformed himself into a character called Toni Eidermann, describing himself as a consultant with the International Dental Design Clinic!

He steps into her life in Bucharest, for example, at an American embassy reception event, which she attended with a couple of her girl mates.

What I found hard to believe is that when he first appears disguised as Erdmann, she does not question him as to what the hell her father is up to. Ines allows him to project his false persona at this event as well as others she went to with colleagues and friends.

I know there would have been no point in making this film if she had exposed his alter ego in public, but even so it stretched the limits of credibility to almost breaking point.

There is humour aplenty in the movie. However it is also infused with a lot of sadness and melancholy.

In effect her father, by playing these practical jokes , is questioning her position as a consultant exploiting poor people in the likes of Romania in her corporate world. – she has no qualms of agreeing to fire people from their jobs for no particular reason – and that she takes life too seriously and needs to loosen up and enjoy herself.

Ines is so joyless that she questions her father’s concept of being happy or chilled out.

The last shot of the film sees Ines, amid a leaf strewn garden, reflecting upon her life, however so briefly. It is an emotionally moving moment to behold.

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