After a brief photo session and then a Vienna hotel when a planned clandestine meeting is derailed, a series of events and relationships ripple round the globe with dramatic consequences for those involved, eventually returning 360 to Vienna - via Paris, London, Phoenix and Denver.
Review by Louise Keller:
Taking chances and navigating the forks in the road is the essence of this circular exploration of sex, love and relationships, in which interconnected characters reveal how actions, reactions and consequences impact on us all. Sexual morals may have changed since Arthur Schnitzler's 1897 play, Reigen, on which Frost / Nixon screenwriter Peter Morgan has loosely based his screenplay, but the complexities of emotions, sexual urges and consequences have not. Just as Alejandro Inarritu's Babel (2006) depicted the invisible line connecting us, so too does Fernando Meirelles' film 360, albeit not with the same emotional ballast.
With diverse characters from a top cast in far-flung settings, the concentrated subject matter of relationships is something with which we are all familiar, yet still find totally mysterious, unfathomable and endlessly fascinating. Although there are no great revelations about the human condition, there is a certain magnetic compulsion about the individual stories and the way Meirelles presents his story, allowing us to become involved and surprised by each character struggling with their moral compass.
It all begins in Vienna, when Blanka (Lucia Siposova), a young Slovakian woman in pursuit of a lucrative career as a high-class call girl exposes her breasts for the camera of a sleazy pimp (Johannes Krisch), who then demands his own gratification. Her first intended client, Michael (Jude Law), a lonely businessman waits in a Vienna hotel bar, while his wife Rose (Rachel Weisz) is partaking her own indiscretions in London.
As we glimpse fragments of relationships, we become involved to some extent. There's Juliano Cazarre as Weisz' Brazilian lover Rui and Maria Flor as Laura, who has had enough of Rui's infidelities. A Muslim dentist (James Debbouze) is conflicted by the feelings he harbours for his married assistant (Dinara Drukarova). Each relationship is fraught with complications, even that of strangers meeting on a plane, or in transit when their planes are delayed.
Anthony Hopkins makes his scenes count as the grieving father burdened by guilt for his daughter's disappearance (the scene in which he bares his soul at the AA meeting is especially potent) while Ben Foster injects a great edginess as sex-offender, just released from jail that cannot trust his self control.
There are elements with this subplot that fail to ring true, such as Laura's sudden advances at Foster's Tyler. Some of the relationships are too fleeting to have much meaning but simply form part of the structure of the circular narrative. All the performances are excellent, although at times we are keener to see where the action will take us, rather than what actually happens.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The film begins with the infamous quote, 'A wise man once said, if there's a fork in the road take it' - but it wasn't a wise man, it was US baseball legend (of the 40s to 60s) Yogi Berra making one of his famous mangled remarks. But never mind, the film tries to straighten this out by suggesting that we should take our chances in life when they present themselves - when you come to a fork in the road, take the one you truly prefer. Seize the day, might have been a more appropriate quote to use, but that's glued in our minds to another film... Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society.
Like several others before him, writer Peter Morgan (of The Queen and Frost/Nixon fame) might have been inspired by Arthur Schnitzler's 1897 play (Reigen) and if so, he does it with the zeal of the enthusiast, but it often feels forced and inauthentic. Perhaps it's a weakness of the direction, but ultimately the film fails to fire up all its many cylinders. There are plenty to choose from, covering relationships across the spectrum of love and sex. There is even an anecdote about a sex offender (Ben Foster, excellent) being released into the world after six years, which could have been powerful but ends up as the most frustratingly implausible and forced of all the stories.
Like all the others, it is linked in passing to another story; each story takes us on a flight to another city and each relationship has to overcome some hurdle, including the one between a Russian crim and his driver, which leads to another unlikely scenario.
Scattered throughout the film are gems of performances, from all the stars but also including the lesser known actors, such as Jamel Debbouze as an Algerian dentist with a shocking crush on his married assistant, Valentine (Dinara Drukarova).
Yet emotional resonance is rare, partly because the film's style and structure are at odds with its emotional ambitions. For example, it starts with an arresting scene of a young woman, Mirka (Lucia Siposova) seen from the pov of the off-camera photographer who is directing her. When he tells her to undress and pose, we realise it's not a fashion shoot. There is much made of this scene and Mirka's decision to become a call girl, taking the coach from her hometown of Bratislava to Vienna for jobs.
She is the character through whom we meet Jude Law's business jet setter, Michael Daly and the springboard for what follows. But what follows is - one after the other - a promise of something riveting, but these promises are not fulfilled.
As a flip-book of snapshots of the human condition, 360 has some interesting moments as we glimpse moments of moral triumph and (more often) failure, but trying to weave them together for the sake of some sort of linear filmmaking doesn't work.
Published December 13, 2012
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360: DVD (MA)
CAST: Anthony Hopkins, Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Ben Foster, Jamel Debbouze, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Moritz Bleibtreu, Dinara Drukarova, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Maria Flor, Mark Ivanir, Juliano Cazarre, Lucia Siposova, Gabriela Marcinkova
PRODUCER: Andrew Eaton, Chris Hanley, Danny Krausz, Emanuel Michael
DIRECTOR: Fernando Meirelles
SCRIPT: Peter Morgan
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Adriano Goldman
EDITOR: Daniel Rezende
PRODUCTION DESIGN: John Paul Kelly
RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 8, 2012 (did not release theatrically)
SPECIAL FEATURES: .
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
DVD RELEASE: December 12, 2012