TM is pretty much a sucker for La Ronde and its remakes -- beginning with the original Schnitzler play to the initial movie version (in 1950, by Max Ophüls), continuing through Roger Vadim's not-bad re-do (1964) for which Jean Anouilh wrote the adaptation, and with a new example arriving nearly every decade since. He also rather liked the Michael John LaChiusa off-Broad-way musical Hello Again (1993), drawn from this eternally bubbling spring. And why not? The vagaries of love, sex and rela-tionships are ever-ripe for dramatization, and this particular little engine -- whether steam, electric or solar-powered -- proves a near-perfect one to demonstrate all sorts of things about humani-ty's endeavors regarding love, limerence and one-night-stands.
30 BEATS, a charming, well-cast and -acted "take" on La Ronde -- with an original twist. Formerly, most, if not all, of the versions I've seen (and I think that occasion-ally I've seen one that forgot to even credit its source), offered a rather sad, cynical look at these "relationships," in which character A connects with character B, then B connects with C, C with D and so on -- until character J connects with, yes, A, thus completing this little "circle of love" (which happens to have been the title of Vadim's version). The writer/director of 30 Beats, Alexis Lloyd, (shown above), a fellow known more for producing than for writing and directing (this is his first full-length feature), has given us one the best modern versions of La Ronde that I have seen because, instead of cynicism, sadness or shame, this movie-maker opts for sex as a kind of doorway to learning, discovery, and opening up to life, love and change.
Condola Rashad, above, right, and Justin Kirk, above, left, who play, respectively A and B in the film.
Jennifer Tilly, above, left, with Mr. Kirk).
Jason Day), a young woman facing a difficult health situation (Paz de la Huerta, in a change of pace, above), a chiropractor (the gifted and versatile Lee Pace, below, left), a switchboard operator (Vahina Giocante, below, right), a political speechwriter, a call girl and a young man who is still -- shock! -- a virgin.
Thomas Sadoski, above, center, as the speechwriter, who goes from a twosome to a very high-class call girl -- played by the movie's ace-in-the-hole, Ingeborga Dapkunaite (below, and most recently seen here in Farewell). Ms Dapkunaite is simply stunning: ravishing, composed and utterly elegant as the retiring call girl about to open her own art gallery. The solo scene in which she visits the empty gallery is one of the movie's best.
Ben Levin, above, who plays the much-heralded virgin. The music is lovely, too -- the original by C.C. Adcock, with the supervision of the rest by K. Blaine Johnston -- accompanying well the pacing, performances and, in some ways, making up the very heart and soul of this film. For a first full-length feature, 30 Beats is a surprisingly original take on a modern-day La Ronde: thoughtful, intelligent and entertaining.
Mr. Nolan -- in New York City at Clearview Cinemas' Chelsea and First & 62nd locations, and at City Cinemas' Village East, and also in theaters in Arizona, California, Missouri and New Jersey. Click here to see all (or most) locations. (The web site seems to have left out our own Clearview Chelsea from its list.)