Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at this years Oscars, ‘Toni Erdmann’ is now in UK cinemas. The film is a German-Austrian comedy drama with one hefty running time. You may get comfortable in your cinema seat as when all is said and done you’ll have invested 2 hours 40 minutes of your life to this film. The film ultimately lost out to ‘The Salesman’ on Oscar night, but is ‘Toni Erdmann’ worthy of the awards buzz?
Initially I would have said no. The narrative for the story follows the relationship of an estranged father & daughter. The daughter, Ina, is played by Sandra Hüller. She works as a business consultant and her career is a major focus in the film. Due to the attention that this element of the story receives it needed to be engaging. Unfortunately there isn’t much here to entertain audiences. The continuous meetings, presentations and phone calls about all things business meant you feel every minute of the mammoth running time and it’s easy to lose hope. Thankfully the comedy does eventually kick in. The film as a whole is amusing rather than hilarious. However there are a few sequences in particular which are laugh out loud funny. These are definitely worth waiting for. The humour often comes from the absolutely ridiculous writing, you’ll no doubt be saying “what the hell!?” to yourself several times throughout the picture. However the absurdity of many scenes is what makes the film funny and for that I have to applaud.
The film really on has two main performers. I’ve already mentioned Hüller who plays Ina. Her character is hard to like, she is a dedicated business women with little time for family. Whilst she won’t be your favourite character, Hüller plays her well and the nature of the character is nessecary for several other elements of the film. For many the star of the show will be Peter Simonischek who plays the father. He brings almost all of the comedy to the film and he does so with subtle brilliance. He’s crucial for a lot of the jokes, he makes them a success with his nonchalant delivery of his lines. The difference between the two main characters also plays well to the comedic elements but it is the seeming insanity of Simonischek’s character that anchors this aspect of the film.
You certainly won’t see another comedy like this any time soon. ‘Toni Erdmann’ is utterly bonkers but I think it’s in a good way. You will be amused by the comedic writing throughout the movie. However, the real treat comes in a couple of sequences towards the end of the film which are genuinely hilirious. The film also holds a message about happiness but it’s too shoehorned in for it to have any lasting effect. It’s a shame that the running time is so long as unquestionably with half an hour shaved off the issues of boredom could have been avoided. Alas they are still very much an issue and do hold the film back from becoming anything really special.
Rating – 6/10
Question: What do you think is the perfect length for a films running time?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
Thanks for reading this review and please let me know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop me a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.