By Monique Hall

Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles’ ‘dramatic thriller’ 360, loosely based on Arthur Schnitzler’s ‘La Ronde’, thrives on the notion of fate and ‘chance meetings’. 

Meirelles’ montage of different locations, beautiful film stars and the predictable mechanic of interlinking lives keep the film chugging along, but only just. Multiple languages and a split screen are also in play, and serve as another tool to keep things ticking along. The film is screaming to have the same emotional impact as Crash, but unfortunately the characters often seem flat. 

The movie, which opened the London Film Festival last year, features a mixture of unknown actors and some household names, notably Brit favourites Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz. The latter lending more star power to the movie than star performances. Law and Weisz’s characters muddle their way through a failing marriage and provide a humdrum storyline. 

360 starts inVienna, where we see a prostitute (Lucia Siposová) at a hotel waiting to meet a man on a business trip (Law). He backs out of the liaison and phones his wife (Weisz), who is having an affair with a photographer (Juliano Cazarré). The photographers girlfriend (Maria Flor) realises he has been cheating on her and leaves, consequently getting on a flight where she meets a man searching for his lost daughter (Hopkins) and a rehabilitated sex offender (Ben Foster). Thus the ‘thought-provoking’ turn of events begin. 

Anthony Hopkins presents a worthwhile character, offering the audience probably the best acting in the 113-minute-long film, but his most important scene at an AA meeting feels out of place and almost stuck in there for the hell of it: “Oh Hopkins is good, let’s whack him in to make it a credible movie”. 

The film essentially revolves around sex, as if it were the pivotal hinge commanding our existence. In the grand scheme of things sex, or the ‘pursuit of love’, are given far too much weight as ‘life decisions’ in the film, and ultimately puts the point of 360 in questionable territory. 

360 relies on a predictable formula and the creators have interwoven and depended on a variety of blatant themes, such as betrayal, loss, and fate, when they should have been focusing on substance rather than forcing viewer sentimentality. Character development is non-existent, and as a viewer you don’t really cherish any individual’s time on screen. 

Whether or not the film has a lasting motto is uncertain and it’s hard to pinpoint the lesson Meirelles and writer Peter Morgan are trying to teach. The film refers frequently to the quote “If there’s a fork in the road, take it” which, thanks to the fact it doesn’t make sense, trivialises the ghastly engineered events in the film. Are we not meant to think that every character is facing a serious dilemma? Plonking a tongue-in-cheek quote by American Major League baseball player and manager Yogi Berra surely contradicts the whole ‘serious’ and ‘gloomy’ vibe of the film. This film wants to be so many things it’s hard to tell actually what its actual purpose is. Some people need to take a different path to achieve happiness, others don’t; but let’s be honest, if they didn’t there wouldn’t be a film. 

Watch 360 for a quick trip around the world (get the reason behind the film title now?) but don’t expect too much. Oh, apart from some clichés, sappy screenwriting, and a magnificently engineered example of several degrees of separation.

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