Despite some rather noble performances, 360 is one of those hyper-ambitious projects that comes off tremendously gauche from kick-off. It features an ensemble cast and a pile of sometimes crisscrossing stories, but it lacks impetus and stability. The stories fail to interest and the winding cadence does little to build on a shaky and scrawny script.
Directed by Fernando Meirelles, 360 comes from a Peter Morgan screenplay and is really hard to describe in terms of storylines. There are many of them and they don’t have much consequence; their only interlocking components seem to come in the form of characters, as though the revelations that “oh, that’s that guy’s wife” or “he knows her?” are enough juice by which to fuel a larger narrative.
So here goes: Anna (Gabriela Marcinkova) joins her sister Mirka (Lucia Siposova) as the latter gets set to have some nude pictures taken by a pimp (Johannes Krisch). Mirka changes her name to Blanca and sets off in the wonderful world of prostitution. She is hired out to a Michael Daly (Jude Law), but they never connect. Despite this, some colleagues find out about Daly’s intentions and blackmail him into a business deal. Daly is married to Rose (Rachel Weisz), who is having an affair of her own with Rui (Juliano Cazarré).
Then there’s Tyler (Ben Foster), a sex offender released after serving his sentence. He goes to an airport to fly to Kentucky but finds himself tempted by a flirtatious Brazilian named Laura (Maria Flor). Laura has also met John (Anthony Hopkins) on the plane. John is looking for his missing and presumed dead daughter. He’s also an alcoholic. In the final moments, the film crystallizes and spends a considerable amount of time with driver Sergei (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) as he does the bidding of his boss.
The last story is arguably the most interesting, but it’s so far removed from the opening of the film that the water’s already been drained out of the proverbial pool. It only “closes the circle” in the most arbitrary and monotonous of ways, offering a character (Anna) to intersect with Sergei in timeworn but amiable fashion and leaving the rest of its strands up in the air. I suppose life’s like that.
For all the chicanery and solid performances, I couldn’t help but think Meirelles’ picture could’ve been more than this gimmicky venture. Similar films, like the superlative Babel, manage to tell tales that matter in an almost metaphysical sense. This picture divides things up into people who’re having affairs and, well, everyone else. It gets dull in a hurry.
It doesn’t help that Meirelles takes the kitchen sink approach to putting this all together. He uses split-screens, different focal points and even an overlaid plane that jets through a static space to drive his point about connections home. Sadly, the effects don’t work and 360 lumbers from one place to the next.
The filmmaker could be credited for giving his actors a lot of space to move, as Hopkins gamely demonstrates in his unnecessary Alcoholics Anonymous meeting scene. But even there, it seems as though Hopkins’ character becomes a tilting parody of itself and the contrived script fails to piece together anything important. The fact that we barely know John doesn’t help.
360 is all about taking the fork in the road, so to speak, but this strenuous project is more like taking a fork in the eye. It stumbles around blushingly, never landing anywhere significant. There are some decent performances, as mentioned, but the actors don’t have much to work with. Despite some big-name attachment, this is one formula picture that never even rounds the first bend.