Three young women living in poverty and squalor reap the consequences of an unfortunate alcohol-fueled crime binge.

Three young women living in poverty and squalor reap the consequences of an unfortunate alcohol-fueled crime binge in writer-helmer (and sometime thesp) Isild Le Besco’s uneven fourth feature, “The Dregs.” Pic’s more muted second half has grace notes, but its first part is so tacky, histrionic and wannabe-outrageous it feels like an early John Waters movie in French, but without the laughs. Sapphic subject matter and shock value will keep pic afloat on the fest circuit, but theatrical prospects look iffy.

Butch Magalie (Valerie Nataf) lives with her bottle-blonde g.f., Barbara (Ginger Roman), a cleaner; and Marie-Steph (Noemie Le Carrer), Magalie’s simple-minded younger sister, in a scummy apartment on the edge of an unnamed Gallic town, where they spend a lot of time shouting at each other. One drunken night, Magalie and Barbara hold up a bakery with a shotgun and accidentally shoot the owner (Benjamin Le Souef). Remorse follows in prison, along with many shots of sun-dappled water and drifting clouds accompanied by prayers to connote transcendence. These moments are not ineffective, but can’t compensate for the abysmal thesping early on or the cruddy tech credits throughout.

The Dregs

France

Production

A Sangsho, Novel, CNC, Region Limousin production. (International sales: Sangsho, Paris.) Produced by Nicolas Hidiroglou. Directed, written by Isild Le Besco.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Thomas Bataille, Nicolas Hidiroglou, Jowan Le Besco; editor, Sylvie Laget; music, Octo, Alain Chamfort, Leonor Graser; set designer, Laurence Vendroux; costume designer, Lisa Gachet, Florence Sadaune. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 10, 2010. Running time: 66 MIN.

With

Valerie Nataf, Ginger Roman, Noemie Le Carrer, Benjamin Le Souef, Gustaver Kervern, Ingrid Leduc, Benjamin Belkhodja.
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