An aimless ensemble drama which wastes a great castSeveral stories intertwine, from a sex worker to a grieving father, as a series of events links them together.
10 years on from his powerful international debut with City of God, Fernando Meirelles is bringing another ensemble tale to the screen, with an attempt to show the unavoidable circularity of existence, the cycles of life we each go through day to day.
Except he doesn’t. 360 forces you to infer this intention from its title because the two hour narrative never manages to make any real connection between the myriad strands of its story.
Starting with a young woman who is new to the sex trade, the narrative flits almost at random from one person to the next, with no overriding theme. If anything, the one constant is everyone’s obsession with sex and the impression that many trendy attractive people are rutting away in nice apartments around the globe.
But if Meirelles intends the film as some indictment of the sex industry, he’s sorely mistaken. It shies away from even the possibility of gritty detail in its depictions, while a turn towards violence in the final act is kept strangely muted and offscreen.
The cast at least feels well appointed, with names like Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Ben Foster helping to prop up the overdesigned poster. But with so many characters thrust onto the screen, none of them really get a chance to make an impression. Law’s potentially unfaithful businessman is a bore and Weisz looks great but is equally dull.
It’s always a pleasure to see Hopkins on screen but he’s curiously low key here, only really waking up for a scene where he regales an AA audience with a story, which you suspect was mostly ad-libbed. Foster arguably gets the most to work with as a sex offender trying to get back into the world but his strand is ludicrously plotted and strains too hard for an emotional release.
With a script from The Queen and Frost/Nixon scribe Peter Morgan, it’s alarming how indifferently written 360 is. The dialogue is awkward and forced and there’s no attempt made to capitalise on numerous potentially interesting plot strands – like an early blackmail attempt – or to even explain why we had to sit through scenes involving an amorous dentist played by Jamel Debbouze.Meirelles’ Blindness may have been far from successful but at least it was trying to engage with the audience in a visceral, often difficult way. Here, he avoids that brazen attitude while also skipping the deft thrills of The Constant Gardener. Even if you see 360 on shelves in a bargain basement six months from now, it’s hard to recommend the investment.