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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Toni Erdmann (2016)

A retired music teacher (Peter Simonischek) is a prankster who is alienated from his adult daughter (Sandra Huller), who is a workaholic currently working as a business consultant in Romania. He makes a spontaneous unannounced visit to her in an attempt to reconnect by putting on a wig and false teeth and passing himself off as Toni Erdmann. Directed by Maren Ade, this is Germany's submission for this year's foreign language category at the Oscars. My major problem with the film is that it sees the daughter as the problem while I see the father as the problem. The film doesn't give us any background on their relationship: what caused the riff, why is she so obsessed on career, what was their relationship like when she was a child etc. It doesn't help that Simonischek is a pretty creepy looking guy even without the wig and false teeth. Fortunately, Huller's performance anchors the film, her face is like a tight fist, you can sense her frustration and unhappiness. Also, the movie is way too long, it pushes near the 3 hour mark which seems a bit much for a father/daughter relationship movie. There are excesses like a sex scene between Huller and Trystan Putter which stops the movie cold. It's just a film I wish I had liked more.

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