Cannes title, Toni Erdmann, to open Munich festival

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Jun 04, 2016 15:41 IST
German film Toni Erdmann is a delightful arthouse comedy by Maren Ade. (Cannes Film Festival)

The Cannes Competition title, Maren Ade’s German-language Toni Erdmann, will open the Munich Film Festival on June 23. The festival runs till July 2.

One of the most endearing movies at Cannes 2016, Toni Erdmann -- a first from Germany in several years -- was actually a hot favourite of critics. They had given a big ranking for the film in the Screen Critics Grid, but Toni Erdmann could not grab the jury’s eyeballs.

A delightful arthouse comedy by Ade -- who won Berlin’s Silver Bear in 2009 for Everyone Else -- Toni Erdmann is an extraordinarily touching story of a father’s bid to get his grown-up daughter to loosen up and be less of a workaholic. To achieve this, the father, Winfried (played by Austrian theatre veteran Peter Simonischek), disguises himself in a variety of ways to elicit laughter from his girl, Ines (German leading lady Sandra Huller).

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At three hours, there is never a dull moment, and here are two of what this writer considers the very best scenes. At the start of the movie, we see Winfried greeting a courier as himself only to return a few minutes later as someone else, much to the amusement of the delivery boy. Later, we see Ines host a party, where she greets her guests in the buff and insists that all of them strip as well. One woman leaves disgusted at the idea of parading in a party stark naked, but returns soon after to be part of a sporting crowd. The full-frontal nudity scene is hilarious at many points, and has no trace of titillation or vulgarity.

Watch Toni Erdmann trailer here:

With charmingly refreshing performances by the two, Toni Erdmann, tells us about Winfried -- a music teacher at a provincial German town, divorced and with just a dog for company, and when his high-strung daughter comes visiting him, he can hardly get any time with her, the constant buzz of her mobile telephone from her office playing a spoilsport intruder.

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When Ines goes back to her work in Brussels, the father follows her, and through a series of intrusive appearances at her workplace and a bewildering variety of disguises (once he wears a bear’s mask), he manages to instil a sense of balance into her. There is tear-jerking poignancy when Ines runs after her father as he walks out of her flat, dejected and depressed. Papa, she calls out when she sees him sitting forlornly on a park bench, and hugs him.

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