Overall Rating: 3/5
December 25, 2016
Dir. Maren Ade
Rated R (for strong sexual conetnt, graphic nudity, language and brief drug use)
Toni Erdmann has proven to be a tough film to review. The film has impressive strengths, but there are a number of things that diminish the film’s efficacy and ultimately damage the overall experience.
Erdmann, one of this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Picture, is a character study, ultimately, which explores the two main leads’ humanity and father-daughter relationship with one another within the context of a dark comedy. And to this end, it does a wonderful job. I thought throughout the film, multiple times, that certain scenes were the best examples of dark comedy that I’ve seen in a film, simultaneously serious and funny, melancholy and hilarious. The acting is (especially in Peter Simonischek’s case) Oscar-worthy and is the most notable aspect of the film in my opinion.
With a runtime of almost three hours, however, the film suffers from being too drawn out. The last chapter of the film (which the viewer will be inclined to anticipate from the beginning) lacks payoff and gives the film an anti-climatic quality especially considering the runtime.
Other complaints include the gratuitously sexual scenes that almost feel unnecessary and misplaced, an over-abundance of joke exposition and detail, and a lack of closure for a number of scenes/plot-lines. Some would argue that the film was made this way to better resemble real life. Either way, I’d recommend being aware of these qualities before your viewing.