A man thinks his daughter is too serious and career focused, so makes an impromptu visit to see her on a work trip in Bucharest. He bombards her with practical jokes, donning a false set of teeth and creating a character, ‘Toni Erdmann’.
Much of the comedy comes from the daughter being mortified but also barely containing her laughter as her father talks to her colleagues ‘incognito’. He preys on the knowledge that she’d be too embarrassed to admit such a buffoon could be her father.
It doesn’t sound like much but it’s often hilarious and provides an interesting dynamic on which to build the father/daughter relationship.
At 2h40m Toni Erdmann demands quite a bit of your time but the gentle pace is also part of its appeal. Things don’t really get going for about an hour but Ade uses the time to carefully lay out the scenario and flesh out the characters.
This is definitely one in a million. Perhaps it’s not as side-splittingly funny as everyone is saying but Toni Erdmann is still a truly charming, tragic, genuine and heart-warming film.