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Without a warning a father comes to visit his daughter abroad. He believes that she lost her humor and therefore surprises her with a rampage of jokes.

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Toni Erdmann movie full length review - Tremendous stuff by Simonischek and Hüller

This is "Toni Erdmann", a German film from this year and it's actually among those films that made the most waves at the Cannes Film Festival this year, even if it did not win the big prize.

The writer and director is Maren Ade (who has her 40th birthday later this year) and you could safely say that this film is on course of taking over from "Alle Anderen" in becoming Ade's most known work to-date. If you decide to check it out, you need to know that it runs for a massive 160 minutes, so easily over 2.5 hours. There are of course supporting players in here too, but the film is mostly about the complicated relationship between the characters played by Sandra Hüller and Peter Simonischek. They play father and daughter in here and you could say that they are both lead. One of the duo is in every scene, frequently both. The very first scene already describes the male main character perfectly. He likes to help others (boy with piano), but they frequently don't want his help and he loves playing pranks on the people in his life, but also on strangers like the mailman. His daughter, on the other hand, is a dedicated and very successful business woman, who (as we find out quickly) lacks joy in life though.

Even if I would overall describe this film just as "good" and not "great", I still believe that it had a handful pretty amazing moments. One would be the first time we see Erdmann when his daughter talks to these other two women. Another would be the singing scene when we see a father make music with his daughter and she finally manages to break free. It may have been the most important moment of the film as we see her for the first time non-prepared and spontaneous during performing and the exact opposite of her sterile presentation a couple scenes earlier. And she is clearly overwhelmed by that moment too. The naked party is probably what many will consider the most memorable opponent and I can see why and I am not necessarily talking about the actors' dedication here in terms of nudity. What overshadowed it was Erdmann's presence in this scene perhaps as I kinda struggled with his furry creature appearance and it also had an impact on the crucial hugging scene that followed right afterward. My interpretation is that it was the one moment and costume that lacked reason entirely. Apart from that, I found it interesting how Romania and the poverty depicted. The rich people in this film only step down to the poor population when they need their help (handcuff scene), otherwise they live in their very own world, including designer clothes, cocaine and huge sums of money.

As a whole, the whooping 2.5 hours flew by so quickly while watching this one and I certainly enjoyed this movie, definitely more than "Everyone Else". I have not been too familiar with Simonischek before and I have seen lauded work by Hüller that did not really impress me, but I must say that this duo absolutely won me over with their performances here. It is really tough to say who was better, because they were both so good in their own right and I hope they get a great deal of awards recognition. Ade came up with a strong achievement here that delivers in terms of relevance, comedy, drama, family and of course emotion. The idea of how Simonischek's character as a "normal" father was not able to change his daughter's life for the better, so he had to go for a fictional character to bring happiness to her is a very creative one. It is also one that could have gotten ridiculous very quickly, but the script and Simonischek turn it into a success. I still believe though that the most central character here is Hüller's as she is the one with the huge character transformation. And as big as it was, it all felt very real. I definitely recommend the watch. Easily one of the best 2016 films from Germany.