Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller are brilliantly funny in writer-director Maren Ade’s endlessly hilarious epic comedy about an embarrassing dad trying to reconnect with his workaholic businesswoman daughter.
The retired German dad, Winfried Conradi, is a constant joker who eventually pretends to be Toni Erdmann and the German ambassador in order to provoke, wake up or just lighten up his ultra serious offspring, whom he visits without warning in Bucharest, Romania, thus conning and kidding all the uptight colleagues round her. Just when she gets busiest with her work, up pops dad, a great not-so-cuddly bear of a man, in the most peculiar, unexpected circumstances, not to mention awful black wig.
It says everything that the comic invention rarely flags in all the movie’s 162 minutes. On inspired form, Simonischek and Hüller are a great comedy team, the German Hardy and Laurel, or Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon.
Outstanding and memorable, it is certainly one of the Films of the Year. The London Film Critics’ Circle voted it Foreign Language Film of the Year. It won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival (2016) as ‘a film gorgeously crafted, made with a fresh and a sensitive approach, that captures the complex relationship between father and daughter and comments on the lunacy of today’s world’. I get the ‘fresh’ but not really the ‘sensitive’. This is a bulldozer of a comedy.
It is Oscar, Golden Globe and Bafta nominated as Best Foreign Language Film.
It was announced on 6 February 2017 that Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig are to star in an English-language remake.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Movie Review
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