360 reunites Oscar-nominated Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles with his Constant Gardener star Rachel Weisz. She is just one of many faces (some very well known like Jude Law and Anthony Hopkins and others less so) to be found in this disappointing and often frustrating story of interconnecting lives.
We start off with a casting call for an escort website before being whisked off to a story about a businessman, then a married woman having an affair, then to a Russian driver/bodyguard, then a father on a trip to America to find his missing daughter, then a recently released sex offender… and so on and so forth.
The film attempts to weave together all these different storylines by means of the characters from all of them “randomly” bumping into one another and their actions being the catalyst (or least an important part of) one of the other character’s singular story. The trouble is it all feels far too fragmented and unconnected to work as a film about human connection. There’s an air of pretentious apparent throughout the film, a smug, misguided sense of self-satisfaction that it is somehow saying something important or meaningful about the subject beyond “we are all connected.” That’s just not a very interesting thing on its own if it’s not explored in a way that feels new or insightful. The fact that it was directed by the same man who made the amazing City of God, and the script was written by the usual excellent Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen, The Last King of Scotland), makes it all the more disappointing.
Nevertheless the performances are across the board great and may be what ultimately saves 360 from total disaster. The impressive cast do their utmost with the limited stuff they’re given (both in terms of emotional scope and duration of screen time), particularly Hopkins as a desperate father clinging onto the hope that his daughter who ran away some years ago is still alive. At one point he delivers a monologue at a support group which is one of the few extremely effective moments to be found in this otherwise unsatisfactory and convoluted film.
The only really compelling or intriguing thing about 360 is the lingering hope that things will somehow come together at the end in a satisfying way. That all these stories we’ve dipped our toes into for small stretches at a time will eventually come full circle as the title so bluntly suggests. Unfortunately that isn’t the case, with an empty ending which feels less like a conclusion and more like a cheat. There’s a difference between being pleasingly ambiguous and just not giving the audience enough and 360 sadly falls into the latter category.
This type of film has been done many times before with the likes of Crash, Babel, Hereafter (also written by Morgan) and The Air I Breathe – to name but a few relatively recent examples – with varying degrees of success. Unfortunately 360 is one of the less successful ones; a fractured, limited and ultimately unsatisfying drama.
360 is released in UK cinemas on August 10th.