People always speak about the cold winter nights being the culprit for a flood of new children being born in September. However, the sweltering heat of the summer can have a similar effect on us. 30 Beats takes place during a heat wave in New York in which random sexual encounters link one another like a chain through the city. Ten characters are brought into a ring of love, although this might not be your idea of conventional love. The film has no one protagonist but spends a short five to ten minutes in the lives of each person as they find a mate to spend some time with, and then move on. The chain of people was almost an unfortunate advertisement for how STDs are spread. The film starts with a girl, then the film follows the guy she slept with, then we follow the next girl he sleeps with and so on. It was hard to feel any sense of romanticism in the film when there was such short time spent together. One particular scene worked perfectly however. Jennifer Tilly spent time with a man and loudly proclaimed it as a “booty call” and nothing more. Although, as time goes by between them, he confesses his love to her, for another woman. The look in her eyes sells this whole film.
Even though she had proclaimed this was just sex and no feelings were to be brought into the bedroom, she can’t help but feel like she’s being thrown out with yesterday’s trash when he tells her about the other girl. The human connection is strong but strange and cruel. We seek each other’s company but only until the “right” one comes along, or at least a “better” one. The rest of the film follows suit with some hurt between lovers and some impulses being tested on others. In all honesty, most of the random encounters are easily forgotten. There were, however, some very interesting metaphors portrayed by some in the film. Director Alexis Lloyd used symbolism eloquently when one of the male characters loses his virginity. It is said that a man’s strongest desire in life is to “spread his seed” so to speak. Lloyd portrayed this young man sewing his wild oats by walking down a busy New York street gleefully handing out large blooming sunflowers to all the beautiful women passing him by. Another instance was a woman who literally had a broken heart and showed a large scar on her chest. She claimed that because of this condition she could no longer enjoy the sexual experience. Although, she goes on to enjoy it with another man, so perhaps that was her way of letting the guy down easy.
Cinematography and score were on par with the atmosphere Lloyd was trying to create. The rooms felt dimly lit and dusty at times. While the rooftops outside were a glimmering ray of hope. Out in the sun, anything was possible. About half of the cast nailed their short roles while other left a bit to be desired. The biggest fault of the film is the weak script. It simply doesn’t hold any weight for repeat viewings. There was no sympathy built for any one character and being beautiful was not enough to be memorable. The story felt cold and depressing most of the time and I’m not sure that’s the tone director Alexis Lloyd was aiming for. No one wins in this love story.
I give 30 Beats 3 “blue roses” out of 5
by Angela Davis