Since I’ve been on a Scott Feinberg jag, I may as well respond to his assessment of Maren Ade‘s Toni Erdmann, which screened yesterday morning (i.e., Sunday) at the Telluride Film Festival.
Despite a nearly three-hour length (i.e., 162 minutes) and a certain number of walkouts observed, Feinberg regards the film as “one of the all-time great father-daughter films, and every bit as much a celebration of joie de vivre as Zorba the Greek, a defense of comedy like Sullivan’s Travels and a celebration of family like It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Photoshop art by HE commenter Zach Copeland.
Before I re-post portions of my 5.13.16 Cannes review, consider the feelings of a woman friend who told me last night that she felt shackled and imprisoned by Erdmann, and that it’s a relatively slight story that could’ve delivered the goods within a modest running time (100 or 110 minutes) and that it certainly didn’t need to last two hours and 42 drag-ass minutes, for God’s sake.
HE Cannes review: “Maren Ade‘s Toni Erdmann is a dry, interminable father-daughter relationship farce. It’s about a hulking, white-haired, 60ish music teacher named Winfried (Peter Simonischek) who tries to rejuvenate a distant relationship with Ines (Sandra Huller), his career-driven daughter, by parachuting into her life and pretending to be a boorish asshole named Toni Erdmann. Winfried’s strategy is to puncture Ines’ uptight veneer by acting out a series of socially intrusive put-ons that are essentially passive-aggressive.
“You know going in that Ines will eventually warm to this crap but I felt more and more appalled. It got to the point that I really couldn’t stand anything about Simonischek — his boorish, hostile behavior and particularly his abominable snowman appearance (jowly wattle, 2-week-old whisker beard, yellowish fake teeth, a cheap black wig he wears for a portion of the film, man boobs).
“I was fascinated by Huller’s life on its own terms (especially her curious relationships with certain co-workers), but the film, of course, is about Simonischek’s plan to overturn her social apple cart so he can break through. Lord knows I’ve found this or that character off-putting from time to time, but my repulsion for Simonischek was something else. I left around the 100-minute mark. I’m told there’s a great naked birthday party and an impromptu singing sequence that Huller sells for all it’s worth, but I will never even think about seeing this film again.”
Update: Now I’m thinking I should attend the last hour of a forthcoming Toronto Film Festival screening of Toni Erdmann in Toronto, so at least I can say I sat through the whole thing.