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Review: Swampy crime drama ‘1 Buck’ sinks fast

A scene from the movie “1 Buck.”
(Gravitas Ventures)

The low-budget indie “1 Buck” is a conceit in search of a meaningful story, a potential statement film manifested as a blood-on-the-bayou crime drama. The result is a dreary journey through sordid territory as a killer slices up a string of small-town Louisiana women.

French-born writer-director Fabien Dufils uses the travels of a single dollar bill as a kind of would-be guide to the film’s main plot, that of a grieving, drug-addicted cop (John Freeman) stumbling his way through said serial murder case.

But the movie’s “follow the money” aspect, a device previously used in 1993’s more upbeat “Twenty Bucks,” rarely seems to have much effect on the action beyond a way to introduce us to a crisscross of mostly sketchy, racist and/or troubled folks: violent thugs, hookers, deadbeat dads, abused women, an obese motel manager and others.

Only Jordan (Will Green), an African American delivery guy unfairly, though not surprisingly, targeted as the murder suspect, brings any real depth and urgency to the proceedings.

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Dufils vividly captures the locale’s seedy, swampy vibe, with its dive bars, shabby homes, ubiquitous convenience stores and underground fight spots. If only there were a more compelling, engaging narrative to match.

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‘1 Buck’

No rating

Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

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Playing: Arena Cinelounge Las Palmas, Hollywood, 8 p.m. Sept. 21; also on VOD

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