Toni Erdmann (2017) Review

Keeva Stratton

Film Expert

In this film about eccentricity and acceptance, a father and daughter find new ways to relate as he attempts to find room in her increasingly busy lifestyle.


Ines is a busy career woman, who is permanently attached to her phone and who spends little time with her family. As she attempts to climb the corporate ladder, her father, a semi-retired music teacher, wants her to slow down.

As the sun sets on his career, he is increasingly concerned that his daughter’s investment in her professional life is leaving little room for life itself, so he decides to visit her where she is working in Romania. There, Ines’s father becomes further unsure of not just his place, but also the corporate culture he sees his daughter becoming immersed in.

To lighten the mood and break up the seriousness of it all, he indulges in his own eccentricities, creating an oddball alter ego character that serves mainly to embarrass her. The contrast between her seriousness and his need to clown only heightens the tension, at least at first.

Toni Erdmann is a film that questions the modern pursuit of ambition over happiness. Through the lens of a father who simply wants to connect with his daughter, we see the unravelling of two humans who desperately seek acceptance (him from her, and her from her boss).

It’s in many ways a beautiful exploration of family, the tension between the more relaxed European baby boomers and their career-minded offspring, and the battle we all have to connect and find meaning in our lives.

If you are looking to immerse yourself with characters and story that will slowly pull you into their world, Toni Erdmann is a wonderfully contemplative choice. It observes the pitfalls of modern life in a warm and emotive way.

Most parents come to know (and struggle) with the moment their children no longer need them, but an adult façade does not necessarily equate to a fully-grown human. In Toni Erdmann we are reminded of how the wisdom of a parent—especially one whose true focus is his daughter’s happiness—is always needed, if not necessarily welcomed at first.

This heart-warming international film will resonate with many. It captures a raft of modern challenges facing us all, especially those trying to stay engaged with their loved ones, while building satisfying professional lives. It’s just been announced that Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig are going to star in a remake, so you may want to watch the original on the big screen while you can.

Quirky and offbeat, like its central character, if you like your films a little idiosyncratic, give this one a go.


Video via youtube

Director: Maren Ade
Stars: Sandra Huller, Peter Simonischek
Runtime: 2 hours 42 mins
Release Date: 16 Feb
Rating: M
Reviewer Rating: 3/5

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