I know this is breaking the rules but seeing as this challenge has been much harder than anticipated I figured that this was only fair. Plus as its Father’s Day, this was perfect to post up!
Labelled the 3 hour German comedy, heralded as one of the best films of the year, winner and nominee of many awards, who would have thought a story about an estranged father and daughter reunion over a weekend would spark such an interest and have this success? Well if you’ve seen it, I think you’ll know how. Maren Ade’s opus is a unique slice of cinema that will be talked about for years to come.
Winfried, an aging divorced music teacher who loves bizarre pranks and dressing up, decides to reconnect with his estranged daughter Ines after his beloved dog dies. Ines is a rather uptight business consultant working and living in Romania. She is not pleased by the sudden appearance of her father especially as she is trying to close a major deal with an oil company. Over the weekend they try to connect by her unwillingness to take a break from work and his immature behaviour pushes a wedge further between them until Winfried returns as Toni Erdmann, life coach with a terrible wig and fake teeth. Switching between being a nuisance and being surprisingly helpful, the two start to find a way to get back to the way they were when Ines was young.
This is summing it up lightly as I don’t want to spoil the film to much as there are moments of pure gold to be enjoyed, especially a spontaneous moment when Toni convinces Ines, or as he says, his secretary Ms Snook, to sing Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All. Winfried and Ines are both set in their ways, but all he really wants for his daughter is for her to be happy and remember to have fun. She learns this in the oddest of ways, an impromptu decision just before her guests arrive for a party.
Something else the film focuses on is how women are perceived in the work place. Her male colleagues constantly undermine Ines, where in order to be slightly included she tends to dress like them and talk like them. After a event at the American Embassy, Winfried unknowingly speaks out to German oil company CEO where as Ines tries to talk to him about business in a professional manner but she is only invited to drinks if her father accompanies them, despite him having no interest and any knowledge what they are talking about. There is also a line that stuck with me when Ines’ boss says ‘this is going to annoy the feminist in you’ and she replies, ‘If I was a feminist I wouldn’t put up with me like you’.
It is such a unique film that created buzz but with great films that aren’t in the English language, US announced a remake. Why? Because they can’t be bothered to market a brilliant piece of cinema that’s not American. It hadn’t even hit UK cinemas before it was announced. It is wrongly being directed by Adam McKay and wrongly cast with Kristen Wiig and Jack Nicholson. I love Wiig but this is not right. There are a few scenes that I will be surprised makes it to US version and they will of course cut it to shreds until it is but a shadow of the glorious original. I mean, they could never recapture that beautiful odd moment when a daughter hugs her father dressed in that costume.