Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener) and screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Last King of Scotland, The Queen) seem to believe that they're working at a very high level of collaborative storytelling with 360, a dreadfully dull, overly serious multiple arc piece that spends much effort moving its characters around a global chessboard without ever bothering to develop most of them into relatable or even interesting human beings. Beginning with a voice over from Mirka (Lucia Siposová), a woman being photographed by the man who will become her pimp, the film announces its intentions (or is it pretensions?) to examine the rippling effects that choice has upon one's personal fate.
Mirka's entry into prostitution gives way to the story of Michael (Jude Law), a man looking to step out on his wife while away on a business trip. So, of course, he's meant to be Mirka's first client, but it's not meant to be, so the film quickly transitions to a short passage about his wife Rose (Rachel Weisz), who is successfully engaging in an affair with a much younger man. This is the pattern that the film sticks with for its entire running time; constantly flitting about from one semi-connected character to another, rarely allowing anything to stick other than the premise that life presents all of us with a series of "forks in the road."
Not too long ago, these kinds of stories involving interlocking characters connected through a series of coincidences and outlying forces were seemingly ubiquitous. There have been a few great films (Nashville, Traffic, Magnolia) that illustrate how one might achieve this kind of narrative high-wire act, but alongside these successful takes stand many poorer examples (Babel and, especially, Fast Food Nation come to mind) of this particular mode of yarn spinning. Regrettably, 360 has its foot mostly in the latter category.
Like Babel, 360 takes itself far too seriously, but even Babel had the decency to treat its audience to a couple of fully fleshed-out scenarios (in Mexico & Japan) on the way to its overly high-minded and self-important observation about how "we" are basically all the same. The best that 360 can muster is a halfway interesting interaction between a woman (Maria Flor) exiting a bad relationship and a grieving father (Anthony Hopkins) before abandoning those characters for yet another half-written story thread. It's ironic that a film that wants to talk about the choices we make feels like the product of some very creative folks who were not able to choose only those stories that would best serve their work. As it stands, 360 feels overstuffed and nonessential.
360 begins its run at Living Room Theaters on Friday, August 31st. More info available here.
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