Every so often a film comes along out of the blue and just blows everyone away. That was the case with Toni Erdmann. After premiering in competition at Cannes last year, Maren Ade’s film went on to garner rave reviews and an Academy Award-nomination. It was frankly robbed of the Oscar by Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman. Germany is a country not famed for its sense of humour, but Toni Erdmann is one of the funniest films you’ll see this year.
Winifred (Peter Simonischek), a divorced music teacher, amuses himself with pranks. When his dog dies, he decides to reconnect with his daughter Ines (Sandra Hüller) who always seems to be working and never has time to talk. He surprises her in Bucharest, where she’s working as a consultant. However, the pair find it hard to get on as Ines struggles to cope with the stresses of work. After a few days, he leaves. That night, whilst having a drink with her friends, Ines encounters the less than mysterious ‘Toni Erdmann’.
On the face of it, a 162 minute German comedy is a tough sell. However, the time just flies by as Toni Erdmann makes you laugh, gasp and cry. Not only is it a brilliant comedy, it’s also a beautifully observed drama about work and family. Both Simonischek and Hüller are superb, and it’s the chemistry between them which makes it such great entertainment. In a time where laughter has become a scarce commodity, Toni Erdmann blows away the cobwebs.
Toni Erdmann is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Thunderbird Releasing on Monday 29 May.