This debut feature updates the La Ronde idea of a chain of lovers, but with a multi-cultural mix of straight, bi and gay characters and without the focus on the etiquettes of romance and seduction. From the opening financial transaction between a middle-aged businessman and an Asian rent boy, it's clear that the characters will all be more or less up-front about their sex drives. What'sdifficult for them is not the quick squelch of the sex act itself, but the feelings that follow: the fears, the insecurities, the expectations that the encounter will be either forgotten or parlayed into something more substantial and durable. The same anxieties that haunt La Ronde, in fact. Each of the ten sexual encounters is credible and superbly acted, but the film really takes off around halfway with the episode involving a nervous immigration lawyer and an angelic boy student. This and subsequent scenes combine novelistic depth with short-story concision: entire lifetimes of unspoken longings and unthought assumptions are laid bare with remarkable skill. The acute wit of the sex scenes isn't, however, always present in the linking material, which tries to conjure an impending solar eclipse into a grand metaphor, but doesn't really make it stick.