Toni Erdmann Review
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The bond between a father and a daughter can be a truly special one. But in the Oscar-nominated German dramedy Toni Erdmann, a strong, successful young woman struggles to keep her jokester of a father in check as she tries to close an important business deal.

Toni Erdmann tells the story of a father’s attempt to reconnect with his grown daughter. Winfried Conradi (Peter Simonischek) is a practical joker who never leaves home without his trusty set of joke teeth in his front pocket. But his daughter, Ines (Sandra Hüller), takes after her mother. She’s straight-laced and serious, a hard-working businesswoman who’s currently working around the clock in Bucharest. When her father shows up unexpectedly while she’s preparing for an important presentation, Ines is irritated—and it gets even worse when he creates a ridiculous alter ego and works his way into her life.

Toni Erdmann offers a sometimes silly, often uncomfortable look at the strained relationship between a father and his daughter. The characters here are complete opposites—as family members often are. Ines is high-strung and deadly-serious, concerned more about her latest business deal than the people in her life. At times, she’s too harsh—and you’ll sympathize with her well-meaning father.

At the same time, though, Winfried takes his joking to unnecessary extremes. While he’s concerned about his daughter—and determined to get her to lighten up a bit—it’s perfectly understandable that she’d be absolutely mortified by his behavior. He’s not just a goofball—the kind of dad who embarrasses his teenage daughter at slumber parties—he’s jeopardizing her business deals and potentially causing problems with her colleagues. He has awkward conversations with the wrong people at the wrong times, and he puts her completely on-edge.

Of course, in a lot of ways, this is simply the story of two people who know how to push each other’s buttons. They have such different perspectives and philosophies, and they have so much history—and that can sometimes prove explosive. Eventually, something’s got to give—and it does here in the most unexpected of ways. In the end, you’ll understand the characters a little bit better—but it takes a lot of awkwardness (and a surprisingly amount of time) to get to that point.

Toni Erdmann is a long and sometimes unnerving film—but there’s definitely a point to all of the craziness. And, in the end, you’ll most likely feel compelled to call your dad and tell him (in your own awkward way) that you love him.

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