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.