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Let’s all take a deep breath… yes, Toni Erdmann is a funny and sad film, a combination that rarely works, but here it does. Yes, it being a German film makes this maybe all the more surprising, especially for those unfamiliar with German cinema. Yes, Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller’s performances are great, especially Hüller is impressive in her balancing the sad corporate robot slowly developing some form of human capacity over the three hours of the film. And, oh yes! there are set pieces such as the already notorious party towards the end of the film that warrant any praise available. My Goodness, that is weird and funny!

However: I do not feel the same form of alarm that some expressed over “Toni Erdmann” getting sidelined at the Oscars. While I have seen not too many of the competitors, the film has some flaws to deal with. At times I felt the pacing was off, it dragged along in some scenes, triggering the hope that something hilarious would happen soon. Simonischek’s role of Ines’ father Winfried, while properly established to be that of a sad clown, was at times less uncomfortable to watch than I would have wished for. It all comes together towards the end in a finale that was excessively satisfactory to watch, but I have to admit that somewhere in the second act I felt a bit bored. What did the setting in Bucharest contribute to the story? Not sure, to be honest, other than a possible EU production co-funding …

I would still like to praise the film as much as I can, but I was a bit surprised to read all the reviews after it broke out at the festival circus, the high expectations that built up during the Summer and Fall did not quite materialise.

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