Toni Erdmann

Toni Erdmann ★★

Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the upcoming Academy Awards, and supposedly the favourite to win the Oscar statuette although I fail to see what's so great about it, Toni Erdmann is a bland, overlong & tediously paced cinema that's amusing in bits n pieces but those moments are few n far between.

The story of Toni Erdmann follows an old-age hippie with a penchant for weird pranks who tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter by paying her a surprise visit but only ends up messing her lifestyle. Things do take an interesting turn when he reappears in a different persona and claims to be her CEO's life coach.

Written, co-produced & directed by Maren Ade, the film opens on a promising note with hints of better things to come but none of that ever really arrives. The main focus is on the deteriorating relationship between a father & a daughter and an attempt by the former to bring a sense of joy back into the latter's life and much of it is finely illustrated.

Still, the entire film feels empty from within. Most of the pranks & lame attempts at humour fall flat, none of the characters exhibit a compelling arc, the plot becomes repetitive after a while, the dull pace at which its events unfold doesn't help either, there is no escalation whatsoever throughout its runtime, and although the performances are good, it fails to enrich the overall experience.

Neither reverberating on emotional scale with its dramatic portions nor consistent when it comes to delivering the laughs with its elements of comedy, Toni Erdmann is an overly stretched & thinly sketched character study that limps aimlessly for 162 minutes before concluding on a banal note. An art-house comedy of sorts, this German-Austrian production will either strike a chord with you or will be an ordeal to sit through.

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