The German comedy Toni Erdmann has been one of the breakout hits of the festival circuit this year, garnering critical acclaim out of Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, and New York. In fact, our own Josh Cabrita gave it top marks in his review out of Cannes, calling it “one of the most tragic comedies of the decade.” Now, as its December U.S. release date approaches, we have the release of the first U.S. trailer, which tries to sell a very curious father/daughter relationship to American viewers.
Toni Erdmann tells the story of Winfried (Peter Simonischek), a middle-aged father who doesn’t see much of his high-powered daughter Ines (Sandra Hüller). His constant pranks get on her nerves, and his attempts at living in closer proximity to her in Bucharest fall flat. So Winfried turns to an alter ego named Toni Erdmann to try and reach out to his daughter. Dressed in a weird wig and false teeth, Toni shows up claiming to be Ines’ CEO’s life coach and throws himself full force into his daughter’s life.
The trailer for Toni Erdmann certainly makes it look like an enjoyable comedy, though it does little to reveal the full extent of Winfried’s transformation or the reasons behind it. Director Maren Ade is trying to deal with a wealth of comedic and dramatic complexity here, which is difficult to sum up in a single trailer. The film actually comes in at a whopping three hours – quite long for a German comedy – and so might not be accessible to any but the more hardened cinephiles among us.
Still, there seems to be plenty of comedy, drama, and eccentricity on display here. Buried beneath the fakery and pranks is a man trying to get closer to his daughter, and a daughter who perhaps needs to let her father into her life.
Toni Erdmann will come to the U.S. in limited release on December 25th.