This is how Max Ophuls envisioned Arthur Schnitzler in 1950
And this is what we get in 2012
A large, promising cast is completely wasted in a limp, lame adaptation of an ever popular work by Arthur Schnitzler.
Watching 30 Beats, which is inspired by the 1897 play, REICHEN, by Arthur Schnitzler, I realized what constitutes the appeal of this often adapted piece, which features interconnected sexual encounters between its characters. It’s about sex, for one thing, giving any director the opportunity the chance to assemble an attractive young cast and get them naked. More tellingly, even, the sketchy omnibus format is a facile premise in which there is no need to do any real work to fully develop characters or plot. The downside of all this is that, while it may provide some flashy diversion, the viewer usually remains largely uninvolved, for even if the segments are compelling, there is no chance to get fully caught up in them, as they keep shifting to the next one. Even the great Max Ophuls, with his lavish 1950 adaptation, LA RONDE, was unable to surmount this problem. And more recent stage adaptations, like the musical HELLO, AGAIN, and David Hare’s THE BLUE ROOM, in which Nicole Kidman played all the female characters quite effectively, followed suit.
Writer/ director Alexis Lloyd really comes a cropper here with the material, delivering an aimless, infinitely boring roundelay that manages to be completely unsexy, to boot. Ten episodes, set during a Manhattan heat wave, follow close upon one another in an anonymous blur which only encourages viewer apathy and indifference. Made in 2009, it’s small wonder that this mess has only now managed to limp its way to a release.
Lloyd features heavy, jaded attitude and often unintentionally risible dialogue over any real insight or emotional depth, starting with bug-eyed Condola Rashad desperate to lose her virginity through an anthropologist played by Justin Kirk. This confused and rather unconvincing stud muffin then goes to seek help from a psychic (Jennifer Tilly, more husky-voiced than ever, in a turn one supposes is meant to be funny), who offers spiritual, as well as sexual, healing. She then finds more sensual release with a bike messenger (Jason Day), with a no strings attached stipulation. He moves on to a woman with a scar he has been stalking (Paz de la Huerta, looking like a brunette Melanie Griffith and acting ineptly) It goes on and on, culminating in an encounter between an aging dominatrix prostitute (Ingeborka Dapkunaite, plain annoying) who, at the instigation of his father, seduces probably the most attractive boy in Manhattan (luscious Ben Levin, who definitely looks like he’d have better things to do with his time). The lad then winds up with best friend Rashad, bringing it all full circle, to a merciful, yet enervatingly overdue, conclusion.