Paz de la Huerta in "30 Beats." (Roadside Attractions )
The film "30 Beats," the debut as writer-director for long-time producer, financier and distributor Alexis Lloyd, is an uneven and unengaging riff on "La Ronde"-style handoff storytelling, following a series of New Yorkers through various sexual encounters during a sweltering summer heat wave.
A young woman asks a man to assist her in losing her virginity, leading him to a psychic who has an encounter with a bike messenger, and on and on. Despite the presence of such actors as Lee Pace, Jennifer Tilly, Justin Kirk, Thomas Sadoski and Paz de la Huerta, there is no character insight allowed by the bumper-car storytelling.
The only payoff to Lloyd's structure is that the young actress Condola Rashad, a recent Tony nominee, is allowed to appear in both the film's first scene and its final segment to bring the story full-circle, though her enigmatic, beguiling presence underlines just the sort of energy missing from the rest of the film.
Her disarming look to the camera at the film's conclusion is startling, witty and strange. The jolt of her return only drives home that otherwise "30 Beats" largely lacks a pulse.
"30 Beats." MPAA rating: R for sexual content, nudity and language. Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes. At Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica.