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Oct 07 2016

NYFF: "Toni Erdmann"is Astonishing

Here'sJasonreporting from the NYFF on a Cannes favorite and Oscar hopeful

It's not often you hear an audience of movie critics gasp out loud at something on-screen,butToni Erdmann,the new comedy of forced familial closeness from German director Maren Ade,has a comic moment so perfectly timed that it got the civilized cinema-set of New York City to jump out of their seats like this was anEvil Deadmovie in 3D.You know you've got 'em hooked when you can conjure up such a response - Hitchcock called it playing the audience like a piano.The fact that it comes via a comic-beat here,and not via a cat jumping onto a final girl's shoulder or a shower stabbing,makes it all the more astonishing.

And make no mistake -Toni Erdmannis astonishing...

Toni Erdmannis a true feat of high-wire movie-making that Ade maneuvers like a mad-women possessed with the high holy spirit of cinematic perfection attained.It pours out of her like it was written in tongues.By turns hilarious and devastating...actually,scratch that - the film is hilarious and devastating all at once,at every once;it brooks no turns.There is no need to with such a precise handle on mood and tone and performance in all the nine-thousand-seven-hundred-and-twenty seconds (aka 2 hours and 42 minutes) of this thing.It flows like water.A lot of water,but water anyway.

The film tells the tale of Winfried (Peter Simonischek) and his estranged daughter Ines (Sandra Hüller).The father invades the daughter's life in the big city armed with a phalanx of costume props and a determination to break down her defenses any which way he can.That most of those ways involve a set of crooked dentures and a dollar store wig only enhances the absurd nightmare we're all about to slip into,and nobody's letting up until we all come out on the other side heaving with laughter and a hard deep recognition of our own worst (and some best) sins.

Both actors clearly caught some of Ade's rapture because they're flying like trapeze maniacs.These performances somehow manage to be both the size of the Sun and as warm and life-giving too.They say a movie's great if it's got three great scenes but it's hard to pinpoint a moment inToni Erdmann's nearly three hours that doesn't ring painfully,beautifully true.Should I give a shout-out to Hüller's crowd-rousing performance of Whitney's Houston's "Greatest Love of All,"which taps into all of that schmaltz and and all of that sincerity simultaneously?What about the funniest use of full frontal nudity maybe ever put on screen?

All I know is by the end ofToni ErdmannI wanted to spend another three hours with these characters,and yet the landing Ade sticks is so surprising and so exquisite that it would be criminal to mess that up.I'm tempted to hit myself in the head and give myself amnesia so I can sit down and watch this movie again for the first time.It would be worth all the pain.Such sweet,exquisite,and hilarious pain.

Toni Erdmann isGermany's Oscars submission for 2016亚博主页.It opens in select US theaters on December 25th.

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Reader Comments (10)

Can't wait!!

October 7,2016 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

It's one of the best films I've seen this year,with two of the stronger central performances.But I think shaving at least ten minutes off would have made it even more potent...and I would be hard pressed to call this movie,funny as it is,a comedy.(Similar toTransparentin that respect,I suppose.)

October 7,2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Paul - my first draft of this review actually had a few lines where I tried to define it by mashing up the words "comedy""family"and "drama"together into new iterations but I cut it out because it was getting way off track - anyway I agree,"comedy"is not entirely appropriate,but god I laughed

October 7,2016 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Astonishing is a good way to describe it.One of the best films in years.

October 7,2016 | Unregistered Commenterguest

If there is any justice,Sandra Hüller should find herself in the Best Actress conversation.At least for critic wins,maybe a LAFCA,Toronto or San Diego win or something.

October 7,2016 | Unregistered Commenterguest

This is the best film of the year,top 5 of the decade.


October 7,2016 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Fantastic movie!
And yes,Sandra Hüller should be in the Best Actress conversation.I've seen her on stage many times and she is one of the most versatile,exciting actresses of german theater.

October 7,2016 | Unregistered CommenterHannes

Sandra Huller's is one of the performances of the decade for me.Like the film itself,it's an astonishing balancing act between comedy and searing pathos (always simultaneously as you say) as well as lacerating psychological insight.

I'm still not sure why the film kept going for another 15 minutes after that scene between the father and daughter in the park though.Can someone explain that to me?It's not that I couldn't understand the subsequent scenes obviously - I just wasn't sure why they were there and they took the air out a bit from that phenomenal climax.

Nonetheless,this is just nitpicking: film of the year so far.

October 9,2016 | Unregistered Commentergoran

Can someone explain that to me?

A mistake,IMO.

October 9,2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Just saw this yesterday at CIFF.This is one of the weirdest movies of the year for me,on so many levels:

- it has a weird pace/timing that I can't criticise because it was never jarring,but it just felt like the film never got going whilst it was going full bore (this is not a criticism)

- it was the shortest 162 minute film I have ever sat through.,I was seriously expecting another hour just before the credits started rolling.

- I didn't get the belly laughs that this review suggested,and yet the humour was there

- it didn't feel like an Oscar frotnrunner.Don;t get me wrong,it was a good movie,but to have this as the clear favourite for the Foreign Film Oscar is just bananas for my mind.

I have so many weird feelings about this movie,maybe I just need to let it settle more.Overall,a good movie however,and a B grade from me.

October 29,2016 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

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