Toni Erdmann is a unique German language film centred on a distant father and his adult daughter, who couldn’t be more different if writer/director Maren Ade tried. The daughter has become stern, efficient and ambitious in a workaholic, big business environment in Bucharest, Romania. When returning to her native Germany to see her family briefly daughter Ines (Sandra Hüller) displays signs of stress and high work commitment. This is much to the concern of her father.
Her father, an old teacher with an unpredictable sense of humour, is of course worried for her. However, it isn’t until his only companion, his dog, dies that Winfried (Peter Simonischek) decides to follow her back to Bucharest. It is not until the mad and maddening events of Ines’ father popping up at the worst of times with the weirdest behavior imaginable that we meet Toni Erdmann. Ines thinks that her father is jeopardising her career and making it the butt of many of his jokes, but Toni makes life itself the punchline – in an attempt to show his daughter not to take life too seriously.
Toni Erdmann is genuinely a one of a kind film. Even if it borrows well-known comedic dynamics such as The Odd Couple or more suppressed dramatics in its dead pan style – the film garnered critical acclaim in 2016 for very good reason. The film provides large questions, such as What are we working towards?, Are we living in the moment? and Is this the best it can be? A fantastic performance from Sandra Hüller which saw her nominated for many awards, sadly restricted mainly to Germany and Europe. Definitely one of the best and funniest films released in 2016.