‘30 Beats’: 29 too many

July 20, 2012

The less said about Alexis Lloyd’s “30 Beats,” the better.

Shot in 2009 and just now getting a release, this gloss on Arthur Schnitzler’s play, “La Ronde,” is about connection, intimacy and the reality or illusion of both. Yet you never get the feeling that anyone in this film connects – and you never care if they do.

Shot in New York, the film starts with one couple – Condola Rashad and Justin Kirk – meeting in his loft, where she announces that she wants to lose her virginity to him. Then it follows Kirk, now suffering from some sort of erectile dysfunction, as he connects with Jennifer Tilly, as some sort of holistic healer. Then Tilly moves on to a young boy toy, who moves on to – well, you get the idea.

Each of the segments is meant to illustrate some facet of the male/female give-and-take, from seduction to dominance to the loss of innocence and so forth. But even with a cast that includes Thomas Sadoski, Lee Pace and Paz de la Huerta, among others, it never feels like more than the gimmick it is. The actors barely seem to dip their toes into these scenes, even when they’re involved in a ménage a trois or an elaborate bondage scheme.

Having seen all of these actors be better elsewhere, I’d place the problems at the feet of Lloyd, who wrote and directed. Having come up with a concept, Lloyd assumes that the idea alone is sufficient to carry the movie.

None of these sequences, however, make you want to see what happens next. Indeed, it was only out of a sense of duty that I made it past the third one. The biggest enigma about “30 Beats” (beyond its title) is how it escaped from the shelf at all.

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