"Low Life" is far from a high point for Gallic writer-director Nicolas Klotz ("Heartbeat Detector").

“Low Life” is far from a high point for Gallic writer-director Nicolas Klotz (“Heartbeat Detector”). Jointly helmed with his regular co-scripter Elisabeth Perceval, pic initially portrays a loose posse of studiedly forlorn Lyon youngsters who rally around some immigrants. Second half focuses on the breakup of two Frenchies, both borderline obsessive, and a foreigner who subsequently becomes the girl’s new pet project. Equating some First World kids’ amorous troubles with major sociopolitical issues affecting thousands will strike most auds as pretentious, while the film’s droning solemnity and drab HD lensing should give foreign distribs further pause.

Meandering first hour offers a fly-on-the-wall look at a ragtag bunch of students who have adopted a group of clandestine aliens, though their idealism is unfocused and poetic (“The global horizon of democracy is war,” it’s helpfully explained). Activities include smoking, drinking, obsessing over love and fending off the police. When Carmen (Camille Rutherford) leaves clingy wannabe bard Charles (Luc Chessel, who looks like a “Twilight” Vulturi reject), the stage is set for her fresh fixation with an Afghani poet (Arash Naimian). French thesps’ acting ranges from drowsy to theatrical; non-locals remain frustratingly anonymous.

Low Life

France

Production

A Les Films du Losange release of an Agora Films production, in association with Maia Cinema. (International sales: Les Films du Losange, Paris.) Produced by Gilles Sandoz. Executive producers, Sandoz, Alain Guesnier. Directed, written by Nicolas Klotz, Elisabeth Perceval.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Helene Louvart; editor, Rose-Marie Lausson; music, Ulysse Klotz, Romain Turzi; production designer, Antoine Platteau; costume designer, Caroline Tavernier. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 6, 2011. (Also in Toronto Film Festival -- Special Presentations.) Running time: 129 MIN.

With

Camille Rutherford, Arash Naimian, Luc Chessel, Michael Evans, Maud Wyler, Winson Calixte. (French, Farsi dialogue)

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