- 360. Directed by Fernando Meirelles. Starring Rachel Weisz, Lucia Siposova, Ben Foster, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins.
Rating: 6 (out of 10)
IT'S all about forks in the road according to one of the characters in Fernando Meirelles' 360.
But despite taking us on a cross-continental, meandering journey - depositing us back where we started, as the title suggests - we don't get more than a passing glimpse into the lives of our characters as we speed by.
The structure of the film offers characters and stories linked like those paper chain dolls: one character meets another, and we move into their life story, and so on. It's an interesting conceit that speaks to how our lives are all somehow interconnected, but it doesn't say much else of substance.
That will surprise fans of the film's writer, Peter Morgan. Morgan penned Frost/Nixon, creating a more complex drama without his characters even leaving the room, let alone hopping around the continent.
It will also disappoint fans of Meirelles' previous works, City of God and The Constant Gardener, both of which created memorable characters dealing with desperate situations in foreign lands.
(Meirelles and actor Rachel Weisz worked together in The Constant Gardener where she won Best Supporting Actress for her performance.)
There are dire situations in 360, to be sure. The film opens with Mirkha (Lucia Siposova) posing for an online escort website in Vienna. She is escorted by her disapproving sister Anna (Gabriela Marcinkova), who waits outside while Mirka conducts business, and then accompanies her back to the family flat in Bratislava.
First time out, Mirkha is stood up by an Englishman on business (Jude Law) who is interrupted by boorish comrades and a call from his young daughter, pleading for a puppy. After the aborted encounter, he heads home to his wife (Weisz) who is trying - not very hard - to end her affair with a 25-yearold Brazilian photographer (Juliano Cazarre). His indiscretion piques his longtime girlfriend (Maria Flor), who flies back home to Brazil seated beside an old man (Anthony Hopkins), who is heading to the U.S. to ID the body of a young woman who may be his daughter, long since missing.
Then, jarringly, there's a shift to Colorado, and the movie glides from social drama to thriller, with a newly released prisoner named Tyler (Ben Foster) and bad-girl decisions aplenty. (Don't invite strange men to your hotel room! Didn't your mother teach you anything?)
These are not all of the interconnected subplots in 360, just the most prominent. Others, such as a Parisian dentist's unspoken feelings for his married hygienist (Jamel Debbouze, Dinara Drukarova), are given only cursory consideration. It's a shame, because this is one of the film's most poignant vignettes. "What's the purpose in life, if not to be a good man?" asks the dentist's imam. A good mantra for the many characters wrestling with infidelity and its fallout.
It's all angst and angles, guilty looks reflected in mirrors and through camera lenses. The characters chat in German, French, Russian and English, but never really come to any sort of revelation. Anna, and her interaction with a Russian gangster's henchman (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), comes closest. Meirelles' 360 is a star-studded but ultimately soulless sojourn that reveals more about the struggles within present-day EU than of the citizens themselves.