Interview: Maren Ade on bringing to life the bizarre Toni Erdmann

Even the simplest description of Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann sounds bonkers, and at that point you haven’t heard the half of it. The three-hour German comedy tells the story of buttoned-up consultant Ines (Sandra Hüller) and her jokester father, Winfried (Peter Simonischek), who begins dressing up in false teeth and a truly ghastly wig to infiltrate his daughter’s life as Toni Erdmann. Toni is a creation unlike most you’ll experience on screen this year: He’s perverse and has the power to make you feel truly uncomfortable—but then again, so does Ines. There’s nudity, a Whitney Houston sing-along, and a furry Bulgarian kuker. At the New York Film Festival earlier this year, The A.V. Club sat down with writer-director Ade to figure out just how she dreamed up this bizarre, entrancing, warm-hearted family story.

The A.V. Club: Toni’s look is so …

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