'Toni Erdmann': An Offbeat German Comedy About Modern Familial Relations and Enduring Devotion
"Toni Erdmann" (2016) is an offbeat and wholly original German comedy-drama starring Sandra Hüller as Ines, an oil industry business consultant working on an outsourcing project in Bucharest, Romania. Intent on securing a contract from a large German oil conglomerate, Ines is aghast when her father Winfried (Peter Simonischek) appears suddenly, intent on distracting her from her professional functions.
A divorced music teacher from northwest Germany, Winfried is mourning the loss of his beloved dog when he impetuously decides to surprise Ines in Bucharest. Donning a mop-top wig and hideous false teeth, Winfried playful infiltrates Ines' professional life, posing as a life coach named "Toni Edrmann" who is visiting Bucharest for the funeral of a friend's turtle. Surprisingly embraced by Ines' co-workers and clients, Winfried quickly gains popularity amidst her cohort—his incursion infuriating her at first, before she slowly comes to appreciate his playful intrusion.
Co-written and directed by German filmmaker Maren Ade ("The Forest for the Trees", "Everyone Else"), "Toni Erdmann" is a wonderfully unique and expressive tale of modern familial relations. Hüller and Simonischek are simply wonderful as the dissonant father-daughter duo, their growing accord serving as the emotional foundation for the story's increasingly madcap turns. At times borderline puerile, Ade manages to carefully sidestep over-indulgence and deliver one of the most entertaining international films of the entire decade.
View the trailer: