It is through the knowledge of Winfried as we enter TONI ERDMANN, the third film from director German Maren Ade. The man at the gab, and a keen sense of the formula. When a mailman comes to deliver a package, he escapes for a few moments and disguises himself as another man – his brother. This scene, funny, lance directly at the viewer in a game of roles, which will be at the center of the film much later.

This dear Winfried has a daughter, Ines. She does not seem happy and he sees it. For him, the smile on your face, it will become embedded in his everyday life and attempting, by the force of things, to change her way of see the life. Nothing is won in advance with Ines, a sort of woman, apathetic in which one perceives a malaise. His life is summarized by his work and his work takes up all the space. In addition, it is under pressure, contaminating his way of being and its relationship to other.

The movie works in first a layer of inflexibility in Ines in spite of all the efforts of his father. The minutes pass and the psychological situation remains maintained the status quo. There is the threat of getting our attention if the charism of Winfried weakens. The staging without any real relief is not helping to stimulate us. And then this father cumbersome disappears from the story, to allow Ines to become the conductor wire. Difficult to understand the approach of both the young woman has not changed one iota. Maren Ade takes the bet to stretch his story and asks us to leave the time to time. It is necessary to sometimes go through phases in hollow but it is a path necessary for rentamer a climb. The situations are mashed, one progresses step by step, the film accords with the therapy undertaken by the father desperate to see his daughter in this psychological state. When it is believed to be stagnating, it is in fact a micro step that is made.

This is a second movie that starts when Winfred becomes Toni Erdmann, a man decked out in a wig and a denture, sometimes German ambassador, sometimes as a “life coach”. His first appearance is a shock, a laugh franc, as the story is backed up in a false rate misleading since the father had disappeared. At a trivial scenes between girlfriends, the man came out of a sudden, in the background, without even realizing it. It was there since the beginning, heard all this (said his daughter upon him). Nobody suspected his presence. A game starts with the viewer to know, in each new scene, where it will be Toni. When it is not in the frame, it is not necessarily far away. The film plays with the possibility of the presence in the out-field, and we laugh. We laugh a lot even. The change of identity corresponds to the toggling of the film in a madness more supported. In particular, a last act climax crazy (a naked party improvised by Ines during her birthday).

To carry out a comedy, it must necessarily be of very good actors. A scenario, valves, do not take the meaning that if of body, talented, know how to give them life. Peter Simonischek is great father without limits. Summarize his / her benefit to a number of cabotin in disguise would be reductive as it also displays a real finesse of the game and a naive pure. Has its opposite, Sandra Hüller takes a long time to explode. His game is a monolithic fact of exaspérations disintegrates in the last third of the film, where we balance in the mouth its full potential as a comedian.

Humour as a remedy for evils, it is that advocated by Maren Ade. Winfried/Toni Erdmann says to a man who has pleased him to open his door to use his toilet : “above all, keep your humor“. Keep it up, because it is valuable if one knows how to see his power. As the film progresses, the father regains its place as a main character and becomes an engine for the evolution of the story, is no longer the one who follows but one who is followed. This long-term job on Ines is rewarded when she agrees to let it go during a hilarious scene of singing. The gaze of the father, surprised to the see also freed, in contrast with the one he had during a scene in a nightclub where he was attending a little deflated at the loss of his offspring. It is at this precise moment, as the fruit of the work he has carried out, that the movie and its duration imposing take on their meaning. He had to go through all of that for a click to occur. After 2h20, a sublime thrill we travelled to the spine when this active woman throws like a little girl in the arms of his father. While modesty, Maren Ade has built up a hymn to happiness, hilarious, and, ultimately, deeply moving.

Published may 14, 2016.

Maxime Bedini

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