An atmospheric if ultimately unsatisfying road-trip-gone-wrong flick, Simon Gross’ debut feature “Fata Morgana” expends precocious directorial assurance on a script less fascinatingly ambiguous than just sketchy. Fest travel and Euro TV are likely to be as far as this odyssey gets, though the helmer himself might go far.
To celebrate his law-school graduation, young Germans Daniel (Matthias Schweighofer) and Laura (Marie Zielcke) vacation in Morocco. After enjoying themselves within the safety of heavily touristed city environs, they rent a car to explore the harsh, unpopulated terrain beyond. A vaguely creepy long-haired man (Jean-Hugues Anglade) offers to show them the desert at a gas station stop. They politely decline. When Daniel unwisely decides to do a little off-road driving, the car conks out, leaving the couple stuck in the middle of nowhere, their wheel tracks soon erased in a windstorm. The terse, mysterious stranger reappears to offer help — but when getting back to civilization takes days on end, the visitors begin to question his motives. Is he leading them into “Walkabout” or “Wolf Creek”? Well-photographed, well-acted pic never quite decides, letting down viewers after a decent buildup.