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TONI ERDMANN Highlights Anxiety and Humor in This Years Darkest Comedy

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By Laura Garber (Ebert Young Writers Participant)

Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann depicts the shadow of comedy and despair. The film’s use of real time gives clear indication that the audience will easily relate from the start. Ade utilizes her 2-hour-plus film to build up to the final scenes with small bursts of regular life climactic dramas. From a dog’s death to a bad massage, every detail almost seemed stagnant after the 2-hour mark, leading you to believe that patience is a hard virtue.

Sandra Hüller, playing Ines Conradi, portrayed anxiety and showed exemplary comedic timing. Her dynamic role as a tight-knit business woman stayed strong in expected situations while also building up surprise in uncharacteristic moments. Hüller’s performance gave simplicity a deeper understanding to underlying personae while gradually breaking her character’s boundaries. Ade’s close to three-hour presentation was worthwhile to relate to a character such as Ines Conradi.

While contemplating if every scene was absolutely necessary, Ines Conradi’s comedic release of anxiety and pressure in form of her birthday party with co-worker attendees that turned into naked team bonding, I was surrounded in a room full of audience laughter. However, I found myself crying, relating to Conradi’s last-minute efforts to fully encompass herself to her surroundings, to find humor in the unfortunate stresses.

Ade beautifully finds the balance between comedy and often-overlooked despair.

As a part of our Ebert Young Writers Program for the Arts, we will be publishing the participants reviews and interviews they produce for the workshop on the official HIFF blog.

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