Peter Morgan is known for The Queen (2006), Frost/Nixon (2008) and The Last King of Scotland (2006), which all tell the stories of real people in an accessible for the viewer way. Meanwhile, Brazilian-born director Meirelles has gained wolrdwide recognition with films like City of God (2002) and The Constant Gardener (2005). Their collaboration 360 aims to represent a kaleidoscopic view of the experiences of various people from different social backgrounds and nationalities whose lives are somehow interlinked. These different situations all deal with universal issues such as desire, depression, guilt, infidelity, sex and blackmail. The numerous locations of the film including Vienna, London, Berlin, Paris and Denver further reinforce the global nature of these anxieties.
The film starts when Michael (Jude Law) is about to meet a prostitute, Blanca (Lucia Siposova), while his own wife, Rose (Rachel Weisz), is having an affair with the Brazilian photographer, Rui (Juliano Cazarre). At the same time, the photographer’s girlfriend leaves him and heads home, but finds herself stuck in Denver. There she encounters an older man (Anthony Hopkins), looking for his long-lost daughter, and a convicted sex offender (Ben Foster), who has recently been released. Other stories include Russian gangsters and a French dentist and his assistant.
…the actors’ performances are sincere even if the episodes they appear in don’t last too long.
What’s annoying is these snippets of people’s lives never delve deep enough to discover any truths about the human soul. This is probably due to the short screen time for each story or the determination to include a wider range of stories. In either case the storyline of each set of characters leaves the audience wanting for a more satisfactory resolution before switching to the next one. What is meant to serve as an observation of human behaviour and its consequences is never completely clear. We often don’t see or understand the motives of the characters’ decisions because they strike as rushed and serving as a quick and simple tool to end a story.
On the other hand, the actors’ performances are sincere even if the episodes they appear in don’t last too long. Each of them sketches the most important characteristics of the characters but there isn’t room for anything else. The film frequently resembles a series of famous faces appearing and disappearing. However, there are some memorable performances such as Anthony Hopkins’s monologue at an AA meeting, giving a hint at what the film could have been.
…the strands connecting the characters are loose and coincidental.
360 promised a look at the problems of our contemporary urban society. The atmosphere and the characters needed for this multi-strand narrative are present but the film keeps going in circles never unveiling the core of the issues. It has potential with its many stories and strong cast but the strands connecting the characters are loose and coincidental. Although it is well-designed visually with glass apartments and cold environment mirroring the characters’ desperation, the narrative structure is weak. In the end the episodes don’t add up to a culmination or a conclusion but let the film’s empty atmosphere and the audience’s anticipation linger.