One of the motifs in the Belgian import “Steve + Sky” is that the male half of the titular duo is often shown running frantically in circles and getting nowhere. In that he seems to be emulating the whole movie. Technically this is a romance, I suppose; Steve (Titus De Voogdt), a scrawny ex-con with a clownlike mop of frizzy hair, and Sky (Delfine Bafort), a lanky blonde hooker, do eventually get together. But the route they travel along the way–littered with arguments, abandonment and violence as well as moments of lust and passion (and others of slacker boredom)–is not a happy one to traverse. Writer-director Felix van Groeningen (along with editor Nico Leunen) make it even bumpier than necessary by pointlessly cutting in footage from earlier and later in the story, foreshadowings and reminiscences one supposes; but the effect is just to make the picture needlessly choppy and chaotic. Of course, even without that bad choice it would be a difficult movie to like.

We’re first introduced to the pair separately. He’s a spindly drug-runner who’s sent to jail for selling Ecstasy. There he becomes pals with gruff, wheelchair-bound Jean-Claude (Johan Heldenburgh). Meanwhile Sky, who’s turning tricks to support her addict boyfriend, is beaten by the bum when he finds out what’s she’s been doing, so she goes off on her own. The two meet up at a men’s club Jean-Claude’s set up after his release: Steve becomes a partner in the place (he and the boss sometimes go off together to steal motorcycles) and Sky a dancer there. The two are attracted to each other, but Steve isn’t ready to commit, and they go through spasms of alternating lovemaking and recrimination. Steve, of course, runs around in those circles; he also races his motorcycle down curiously empty streets on occasion late at night. As for Sky, she has a tendency to fake epileptic fits as a joke and also dances through intersections rather than walking if she doesn’t reach them before the light changes. As you can see, they’re very deep souls, particularly as played by the befuddled De Voogdt and the blankly inexpressive Bafort. (The earthy Heldenburgh is more enlivening, but only marginally, and a fourth character–his daughter, played by Romy Bollion, is an obnoxious little twerp.) The movie looks dreadful, too–grainy, dark and unattractive.

So thinness is the stuff of the whole picture (not just of its male lead). “Steve + Sky” is a tedious movie about very unpleasant people. It definitely deserves a minus rather than the affected titular plus sign.