A quiet, contemplative look at a quiet, contemplative band, Low In Europe uses the Minnesota trio's total lack of typical rock moves as a hook. In one interview, drummer Mimi Parker explains how, when asked by a former record label to come up with a juicy story that might feed the media machine, she replied, "We got up today and brushed our teeth." Which isn't to say that she and her bandmates—singer-guitarist Alan Sparhawk and bassist Zak Sally—refuse to speak, it's just that they mostly rely on their music to convey what even candid interviews can't really capture.
Sebastian Schrade's documentary breaks down as roughly half live performances (filmed, as the title implies, in Europe in 2002 and 2003) and half interviews, conducted backstage, in hotel rooms, and in a cramped van. Boredom is staved off by the excitement of a good show, the presence of Sparhawk and Parker's young daughter, and a chance radio-station meeting with Napalm Death, a band Sparhawk clearly—and perhaps surprisingly—respects. Days are spent getting to the shows, and nights are spent playing them and then greeting fans: Sparhawk, typically low-key, admires the regularity of the routine.
When the band hits the stage, any notion that its austere, often slow songs are boring is rendered almost ridiculous. Schrade captures the intensity of "Little Argument With Myself" with lingering close-ups and artful camera movements; throughout Low In Europe, he switches between grainy Super-8 and saturated Super-Video, providing a nice contrast. Like the band itself, the film offers no monumental story or sound-bite-worthy hook, opting instead to assume that beautiful sounds and striking pictures are enough.