A thoughtful, shrewdly-constructed documentary about randomly chosen residents of urban sprawl between Cologne and Bonn, “Remote Area” stretches the bounds of the genre and is thus a natural fit for fests looking off the beaten path. Deliberate pacing and some dramatic staging render this more upscale tube fare than an arthouse attraction.
Inspired by her short film on rural British cosmetics saleswomen, Hamburg-born helmer Alexandra Sell decided to learn more about the interior of her own country. Settling on the faceless jumble of village, commercial and suburban construction in the Rhineland, she follows four protags: Hans Wilhelm Duemmer, a priest saddled with making peace between two rival villages; Sophia Rey, a successful detective novelist unknown in her own community; Mark Basinsky, an aspiring fashion designer; and Giuseppe Scolaro, chairman of a local social club. Pic is strongest when tuning into rhythms of rural life, less strong when stressing omniscient narration and more dramatic constructs. Tech credits are capable, highlighted by tight and precise editing; per helmer, cutting took over a year, during which filmed interviews with principles were jettisoned in favor of current fly-on-the-wall approach.