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Wick's Review

Created Feb 07, 2017 10:15PM PST • Edited Dec 09, 2018 07:31PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    A professionally successful woman mystifies her foolish father in the brilliantly funny Toni Erdmann. Nominated this year for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, its comedy comes from the juxtaposition of unconditional love with highly conditional status, the former in a family, the latter in a modern corporation.

    A father loves his daughter no matter what, and she him, even when he wreaks disaster on her carefully orchestrated and well-heeled life. Meanwhile, she is always on thin-ice with her demanding boss and feckless client, never able to speak a straightforward utterance. Being a consultant doesn’t help her stability.

    It’s a contrast between home and office that many of us understand. Add in the distaff dynamics of a single woman in the male dominated world of big business and you have a recipe for comedy gold. Toni Erdmann only goes wrong because it goes too long, clocking in at a patience-testing 2 hours and 42 mins. That’s longer than any comedy should run, even one as smart and funny as this Oscar worthy production.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller are brilliantly deadpan as a loopy father and his successful daughter. Simonischek carries much of the comedy and the pathos as a man who has never taken much seriously, including the fact that he often comes across as a boorish fool. A foolish performance it’s not. Hüller’s performance is even braver. Her character is emotionally self-contained, extremely bright and ultimately ready to break. That breakdown, when it comes, is all the funnier because of her still evident rectitude.

    Notables in the impressive ensemble cast:

    • Ingrid Bisu is fresh-faced as an eager corporate assistant.
    • Thomas Loibl carries himself with suitable graviatas as a Partner at a large consultancy.
    • Trystan Pütter manages to engage in debasing activities without debasing himself.
    • Lucy Russell is crisply savvy as a wealthy British expat in Romania.
    • Hadewych Minis cuts a striking figure as a saleswoman navigating Bucharest’s upper-crust.
  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Really Great 4.5

    Maren Ade has become a star auteur because of Toni Erdmann. Her film nails the subtleties of high-end professional organizations and the well-heeled people who populate them, even as it captures the sloppy relationships within families and the imperfect people who populate them.

    She includes several set-pieces that are flat out brilliant, including the awkward song that a father induces his daughter to sing at a party they crash, and a spectacularly awkward birthday party populated solely by professional colleagues.

  9. Direction Really Great 4.5
  10. Play Really Great 4.5
  11. Music Really Great 4.5
  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 2.8

    Much nudity and even some graphic sexual activity is shown, though the film is anything but titillating. Hilariously mortifying, yes. Sexy, not so much.

  15. Sex Erotic 3.5
  16. Violence Fierce 1.8
  17. Rudeness Profane 3.1
  18. Glib 1.5

    Toni Erdmann is a wacky comedy, hence the 2.5x CircoReality.

    Movie hijinks aside, the film is perhaps most interesting for highlighting the global divide between the high-end professional class and, well, everyone else. Whether in Bucharest or any other city, well-heeled professionals indulge in lives of sleek splendor that even their family members can barely understand.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.5
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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