NihilBaxter’s review published on Letterboxd:
I really did not know what to make of this film for a while. While watching it, it seemed weird to give such an average rating for a film which is apparently so polarizing. However, when I started thinking about this review, it began to make sense.
To me, "Toni Erdmann" has clear upsides (which are very versatile) and one decisive downside - paradoxically, that is its versatility. Going into this film, I knew some things and thought I generally knew what to expect. I expected a story about a father and daughter with many intentionally cringe-worthy moments and some dramatic character growth. In some way I got exactly that, in some ways I completely did not.
One thing I certainly received was the cringe-worthiness. Scenes like that are usually not my thing at all but I'm willing to accept them as a means to an end. And here's where my major problem with "Toni Erdmann" comes in - a lot of aspects which could have worked in favor of the film instead contradicted each other. The aforementioned intentionally embarrassing moments worked for a while but then the ridiculousness started taking something away from the more down to earth-moments, the emotionally moving ones. It's the same with the more absurd plot points, as funny as they were sometimes. About half the script and all of the (downright genius) performances created an incredible sense of realism. However, some scenes were so highly obscure and odd that they completely destroyed this sense for me.
While those contrasts might work for some people towards some kind of positive result, the different approaches quickly started cancelling each other out in my opinion.
What I'm left with in my subjective way of looking at movies is this: "Toni Erdmann" has top-notch acting, some of the most realistic I've seen in quite a while; it has original writing and creative ideas; it has interesting if not necessarily likable characters - but it either does too much for too little effect or it doesn't do enough right to make me feel that effect.
Will I ever watch it again? Probably not, especially since there were some scenes which I just do not need too see again. Is it worth watching? Certainly, even if it's just for the sake of discussion. And the performances of course.