Toni Erdmann (2016)
With its gentle buffoonery and cringe comedy inclinations, this life-affirming hybrid between family drama and social criticism slowly demands your complete attention – and ultimately appreciation – thanks to warm, self-exposing acting-performances and patient, sensitive storytelling by writer/director Maren Ade. Toni Erdmann is arch-European in style, with its limited use of music, unassuming camera-work and at first glance unremarkable characters and situations. But the introduction of the title character enables Ade to embark on a playful and highly ambitious dissection of her lead characters in which the constant duality and looming breakdown of both Winfried's and Ines' act adds a surprising level of intensity and suspense to it all. The result is an electrifying psychological study elegantly wrapped in distinct, underplayed comedic qualities. A truly original film.