Winfried Conradi (Peter Simonischek) is the divorced father of a grown daughter Ines (Sandra Huller) She is a successful consultant working overseas mainly in Shanghai but is currently based in Bucharest, Romania. Her dad is a music teacher and lifelong practical joker that Ines found fun when she was a kid but his act has become tiresome now that she's a grown working woman. Ines returns home for a reception at her mother's house where Winfried gets it in his head that she has become way too serious. After a couple of events free him from ties at home, Winfired decides to surprise her in Bucharest as his alter ego Toni Erdmann. Once there, he throw up a series of obsticals in his daughter's path to make her think on her feet in the hopes of making her life more interesting and enjoyable.
Writer-director Maren Ade presents a pleasing comedy that picks up the pace significantly once the action gets going in Bucharest. The attempts to be part of /disrupt Ines life continue to increase on an every larger scale culminating with an outlandish woolly beast costumed appearance at a non-stop laugh filled yet extremely uncomfortable team bonding scene in Ines apartment. .Ade is very adept at showing the less glamorous moments of Ines high leverage consulting job as she if forced to take a clients wife shopping or is rebuffed for her characterization of the team current project. The production also shows jokester Winfried's lonely instants as well. The early part of the film does drag and a few of the opening gags could be shortened or removed to tighten up the production and reduce the massive 162 minute run time.
The success of the piece comes down to the work of the two main actors. Simonischek and Huller play well off one another as father and daughter. Ines is clearly exasperated by her fathers actions but genuinely likes to have him around and sees how his lightheartedness has a positive effect on everyone around him. Huller has to go in many different directions with her richly written character but hits each note true delivering one of the better acting performances of the year.
Toni Erdmann is a funny yet thoughtful complicated piece that has a strong anti- workaholic message that's presented subtly enough for the viewer to absorb and not feel that they are being lectured. The early part of the film could uses a bit of editing but overall the performances, dialogue and story-line make it a film that I can definitely recommend.
*** 1/2 Out of 4.
Toni Erdmann | Maren Ade | Germany /Austria | 2016 | 162 Minutes.
Tags; Father-Daughter, Alter Ego, Consultant, Shanghai , Bucharest, Team Building, Birthday party, Brunch,Power Point, False Teeth, Wig.