A German Film & Television Academy graduation project that's quite the savvy little industry calling card, Nathalie Steinbart's debut feature "Middle of Nowhere" lends a light touch to the pocket-noir script she's co-written with Peter d'Ambrosio.

A German Film & Television Academy graduation project that’s quite the savvy little industry calling card, Nathalie Steinbart’s debut feature “Middle of Nowhere” lends a light touch to the pocket-noir script she’s co-written with Peter d’Ambrosio. If both scenario and direction score solid base hits rather than a home run, this diverting seriocomic suspenser still reps a bright spot for New Director showcases and niche broadcasters, with clever premise dangling remake potential.

A Polish emigre escaping from prison, small-time thief Marek (Florian Panzner) manages to catch a ride, then steal a car and identity, from a traveling “financial adviser” he leaves trapped in a roadside toilet. Unfortunately, the auto dies just outside the dead-end East German town where said shyster pulled off his latest real estate scam. Mistaken for the man who’d stolen their savings, Marek takes shelter from angry, drunken villagers in a decrepit gas station, sparking with the female attendant (Tamara Simunovic). Surly provincialism of local yahoos and a few nice plot ironies abet pic’s laconic tenor, though character dynamics, suspense and action segs could have been ratcheted up a notch. Perfs are solid; tech package modest but crisp.

The Middle of Nowhere

Germany

Production

A Bavaria Film Intl. presentation of an Octopus Media production in association with Linda Film, Tellux-Film and Cine-Images. Produced by Pit Riethmuller, Bernd Vorjans. Co-producers, Curt Linda, Georg Stingl, Horst Knechel. Directed by Nathalie Steinbart. Screenplay, Peter d'Ambrosio, Steinbart.

Crew

Camera (color), Charlie Koschnick; editor, Steinbart; music, Kim Kiesling, Martin Fekl, Lovekrauts; production designers, Schlogel/Schleiermacher. Reviewed at Montreal Film Festival (Focus on German Cinema), Aug. 25, 2001. Original title: Endstation: Tanke. Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Tamara Simunovic, Florian Panzner, Oliver Brocker, Vadim Glowna, Horst-Gunter Marx, Hendrik Arnst, Marc Richter, Tobias Schenke.
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