Critic - No.102

Director: Maren Ade
Casts:  Sandra Hüller, Peter Simonischek
Language: German, English
Genre: Drama

Plot: A practical joking father tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter a stony and single-minded management consultant

By sweeping up many award cabinets and critical acclaim worldwide, ‘Toni Erdman’ has provoked grins and grimaces among cinema lovers all over the world. With a perfect balance of laugh out loud absurd comedy and painfully underlining tragedy, Maren Ede’s black comedy is winner at all aspects.

The main thing that indulged me at each frame is the unusual yet relatable character sketch of the leads. You are introduced to ‘Toni Erdman’, an alter ego of Winfried (Peter Simonischek) with a fake teeth and grey wig very early in the story that somehow paints a very interesting set up about him and his career minded daughter, Ines (Sandra). Ines who is always embarrassed by her father’s practical jokes, doesn’t really connect with him especially after ranting and blaming him for her middling career blunders. However, one day Winfried decides to show up as his alter ego, impersonating as a life coach during a client meeting.

From then on, the film takes a diversion towards a surrealistic yet emotional space beaming with Ade’s startling original comedy writing. Be it the loud moments or the awkwardly silent scenes, Ade thumps us with self-guilt and poses thought provoking questions on the trends of modern lifestyle.

Ade’s ‘Toni Erdman’ is not only an absurd black comedy about father and daughter but also a film that actually discusses sub themes such as alienation, dehumanizing nature in modern workplace and conflicts between work and family. The most brilliant thing about ‘Toni Erdman’ is that the unique comical situations are weaved so seamlessly and symbolically with understated painful revelations that the father and daughter silently go through along their travel together.  Look out for the knockout portrayed climax comedy that peaks the innovation meter in the film.

With the off beat treatment and minimal characters, this film might have not sustained for three hours if not for the lead performers who technically carries the film on their shoulders with subtle yet extremely convincing performances. Peter and Sandra’s sparkling chemistry is undoubtedly the biggest strength of the film. 

Shot in an unpretentious documentary style, each shots are organically framed, bringing the audience closer and closer towards the characters’ emotions, struggles and sometimes their oddly staged comical encounters.

‘Toni Erdman’ is a bittersweet drama, poignantly painted by the brilliant performance by the lead casts in a tasteful offbeat and absurd fashion.




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