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In Character

Maren Ade (Photo courtesy of Iris Janke/Sony Pictures Classics)

Before we hit the halfway mark in German filmmaker Maren Ade’s masterful Toni Erdmann, Winfried suddenly confronts his adult daughter Ines: “Are you even a human?” He’s been abandoned for hours in Bucharest’s largest shopping mall as she chaperoned the wealthy wife of her employer. For Winfried, it’s a moment of unexpected gravity that temporarily disrupts his shaggy-dog, prankster-father persona. Visibly wounded by the attack, Ines swiftly resumes her role as the sleek, self-controlled daughter, and fires back, “Of course you’d think that.” It’s painful and uneasy to watch, and, as with most of the scenes between Winfried (Peter Simonischek) […]

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