“Toni Erdmann” a.k.a “Awkward silence: The movie

Toni Erdmann 1 (fwweekly.com)
Ines Conradi, played by Sandra Huller, naked in film “Toni Erdmann.” COURTESY OF FWWEEKLY.COM

ROSEMARY SCHWEITZER | schwe035@rangers.uwp.edu

Foreign Film Series ends with a ‘huh?’

Over the course of the past year, UW-Parkside has played host the some of the most critically acclaimed foreign films of 2016 and ‘17, ranging from musical comedies to historical dramatizations. In my personal opinion, the majority of these films have been engaging and interesting, but only one has inspired a second watching, and others have been genuinely difficult to get through. The most recent addition to the latter list would be the final film of the series, “Toni Erdmann”.

“Toni Erdmann” is the story of a driven career woman and the quirky father that turns her life upside down in a matter of days and manages to show her that a little humor never hurt anyone. Sounds like a real gut-busting, heartstring-pulling adventure, doesn’t it?

Well, most of the critics would have to agree

“Toni Erdmann” is likely one of the highest rated films from the Foreign Film Series, recieving a 93% rating from Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, as well as a 7.5 out of 10 on IMDB, not to mention all the awards. This one film was nominated for 126 different awards, including an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, and more than half of the nominations were for best film. Of the 126 award nominations, “Toni Erdmann” actually won 51. Reviewers all over the world have been all too eager to throw praise at the film, saying that movie-goers are in for a laugh out loud, thought provoking treat. A.O. Scott of the New York Times went so far as to claim that “Toni Erdmann” was “By a wide margin the funniest almost-three-hour German comedy you will ever see.”

Personally? I think that barely misses being an insult to German comedy, because there cannot be that many “almost-three-hour” German comedies.

Blink and you might miss the genius

I have no idea what I missed while watching the film, but it must have been something big, because there is no way I would rewatch this film, let alone nominate it for an Oscar. I have never minded a dramatic or thoughtful pause or lull in dialog, but when that lull lasts upwards of ten seconds, and the only payout is a middle-aged man putting in a set of glaringly false teeth? Call me crazy but that does not fit my definition of hilarious.

The characters were hard to identify with as well, and may be that is because of my young age and lack of life experience, but they all seemed so humorless or shallow or just plain dull.

Giving credit where credit is due

In all fairness, the last half hour of the film was a complete departure from the rest of the somber attempts at comedy and was startlingly funny. However, when I say “startlingly”, I do meant that. Seriously, if you are not in the mood to see a bunch of nude people awkwardly interacting after having already interacted awkwardly for two hours, just skip this one and come back hoping next year’s Foreign Film Series has a better selection. That’s what I’ll be doing.

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