Toni Erdman (15) – A Preview

Directed by Maren Ade, Germany, 2016, 162 mins, subtitled in parts 
With Sandra Hüller, Peter Simonischek 

The prospect of watching a German comedy that runs for a little under three hours would give the most adventurous of film goers pause for thought, notwithstanding the awards and plaudit Toni Earmann has received, yet Maren Ade’s film quickly proves to be worth the effort. 
Sandra Huller is excellent as a hardnosed career woman mortified by the unwanted appearance of her father (Peter Simonichek in a comedy master class) at a key business meeting. To say more would be to diminish the exquisite horror of the ensuing embarrassment that unfolds as the mysterious Toni Erdmann takes centre stage. This is a comedy, and a very funny one, but it is so much more. Reminiscent of the early plays of Mike Leigh, the cringe worthy set pieces and social awkwardness serve a greater purpose than seeking laughs. Moren Ade has created characters, not caricatures, so that while we may snigger at their antics, we ultimately empathise with their pain. 
It is fascinating to see the extent to which familial issues transcend national barriers – who knew the Germans were as screwed up as us – and it’s also heart-warming that Maren’s abiding message is one of hope, understanding and forgiveness.

By David Vass

Book tickets for the screening on the 26 July here