Reviewed by many as a riotously funny German comedy, I found this new foreign film to be tenderly amusing but far from riotous. While the film skewers sexual politics in a geo-political business world, it also explores a unique father/daughter relationship in an amusing and unusually loving way.
Wilfried is an older divorced music teacher fond of practical jokes and silly disguises. When his elderly dog dies, he drops in unexpectedly on his uptight, no nonsense, daughter Ines who is a business executive for an oil consulting firm in Romania. Looking to reconnect with Ines, Wilfried takes on a alter ego , "Toni Erdmann" and upends her buttoned up life.
Peter Simonischek plays Wilfried as a sly fox of a father who realizes his daughter's unhappiness and takes things to the extreme to make her see life differently. Sandra Huller is Ines and she is wonderful as we watch her personality shift ever so slowly under her father's annoying but loving influence.
The humor of the film can be interpreted in different ways, from odd to slapstick with a few truly strange scenes thrown in for good measure. Written and directed by Maren Ade, loosely based on her own father, the film takes it's time (almost three hours) to tell it's story. The film is in German with some English and Romanian and the emotions stirred at it's core will stay with you for some time.