In a Russian coastal town, Kolya is forced to fight the corrupt mayor when he is told that his house will be demolished. He recruits a lawyer friend to help, but the man's arrival brings further misfortune for Kolya and his family.
Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.
While both participating in a production of "Death of a Salesman," a teacher's wife is assaulted in her new home, which leaves him determined to find the perpetrator over his wife's traumatized objections.
Winfried doesn't see much of his working daughter Ines. He pays her a surprise visit in Bucharest, where she's busy as a corporate strategist. The geographical change doesn't help them to see more eye to eye. Practical joker Winfried annoys his daughter with corny pranks and jabs at her routine lifestyle of meetings and paperwork. Father and daughter reach an impasse, and Winfried agrees to go home to Germany. Enter Toni Erdmann: Winfried's flashy alter ego. Disguised in a tacky suit, weird wig and fake teeth, Toni barges into Ines' work circle, claiming to be her CEO's life coach. As Toni, Winfried doesn't hold back, and Ines meets the challenge. The harder they push, the closer they become. In all the madness, Ines begins to see that her eccentric father deserves a place in her life.Written by
Maren Ade set the film in Bucharest because with the opening up of the markets and the rise of the economy there, many German companies stepped in to act as business consultants. Ade is also very admiring of the 'Romanian New Wave', a group of acclaimed films coming out of Romania. This is her way of thanking the rejuvenated film industry there. See more »
On their way back from the small oilfield in Romania, the background motorway scenes differ between Ines and her father in between shots. See more »
Germans don't have a reputation for being extremely funny. In cinema, they are better known for their dramas than for their comedies. 'Toni Erdmann' is the exception to the rule. It's a German comedy and - surprise! - it has funny moments.
On the other hand, this film is as much a drama as a comedy. The focus is not so much on the humor, but rather on the relationship between a father and his daughter. The daughter is a tense career woman, who lives in Bucharest and doesn't really seem to enjoy her life. When her father visits her, he tries to make her unwind a bit by performing crazy pranks and practical jokes. It's because of these jokes, sometimes leading to hilarious situations, that the film is classified as a comedy. But on the other hand, there is always a bitter aftertaste to the humour, because it is secondary to the father-daughter theme.
As irritating and embarrassing the father sometimes is to the daughter, at last he succeeds in changing her attitude. This in itself leads to some bizarre and also dramatically strong scenes.
In my opinion, the script could have used some streamlining and there was no need to stretch the movie to 162 minutes. On the plus side: this film offers an original view to the question how seriously we should take life. And the two lead actors do a great job.
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