But there's a lot more going on beneath the surface in this offbeat meditation on family, aging, the passage of time, and the meaning of happiness.
This is the third movie directed by German filmmaker Maren Ade, and her first to get wide distribution in the States. The story revolves around Winfried Conradi (the wonderful Peter Simonischek), a retired schoolteacher who confounds a deliveryman at the door by pretending to be twin brothers, likes to fool around with a set of fake buck teeth, and puts on zombie make-up to lead a chorus of kids at a school musical recital.
Amicably divorced from his ex-wife, Winfried attends a birthday party for their grown daughter, Ines (Sandra Huller). Briefly home from Bucharest, where the German corporation she works for is setting up business interests in Romania, Ines spends most of her time on the phone with her boss.
Concerned that his daughter is trapped in a joyless life, Winfried "spontaneously" follows her back to Bucharest and shows up at her workplace. His antics drive her nuts, but we begin to understand all the ways that her life is disappointing her, just as her father fears.
|Father knows best: Huller and Simonischek|
It's length, accumulation of detail, and humor, that allows Ade to craft her story with such emotional richness.
PS: Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig are poised to star in the English-language remake. You heard it here first!