Occasionally a director will essay a variation on “La Ronde,” Max Ophuls’ splendid filmization of the (in)famous Schnitzler play that follows the amorous encounters of an interlocking succession of lovers. Usually these efforts establish themselves along a shifting line between art and porn (1992’s “Chain of Desire” or the recent “360”). In Alexis Lloyd’s Gotham-set debut, however, ambiguity rules the day as a string of strategic blackouts signal unseen consummations, failures of same, and coyly ambivalent blanks. Opening July 20 in limited release, “30 Beats” moves briskly from coupling to coupling, finding little reason to linger.
The jazz-scored pic relies heavily on quirkiness to round out shaky characterizations and inject interest into otherwise forgettable pairings. While highlighting its share of everyday professions like bike messenger or switchboard operator, “Beats” mostly skews exotic in its array of Gothamites: a virgin of each sex, a dominatrix, a political speechwriter, a psychic. Similarly, its 10 trysts tend toward the bizarre — polymorphously perverse trios, chiropractic foreplay, scarred torsos and bondage included. The varied, vaguely bohemian locations range all over New York and command unlikely amounts of space, with nary a cramped apartment in sight.