‘360’ Review

7.5/10

Film Pulse Score

Release Date:  August 3, 2012 (Limited)
Current Showing via OnDemand Platforms
Director:  Fernando Meirelles
MPAA Rating:  R
Film Pulse Score: 7.5/10

Expectations of a film can be uber-high, especially when that film is written by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) and directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardner) – these are four phenomenal films – indeed, I count City of God as a clear masterpiece.  So, I came to 360 anticipating greatness, which all film-lovers know can be dangerous because we are likely to be disappointed.  I cannot say I was disappointed, but a film just under two hours with so many characters simply cannot do justice to them all in the way a more targeted film could and/or might have done.

360 is a nearly impossible movie to describe because of its style – a film that follows in the footsteps of well-known films such as 21 Grams, Crash, and Babel.  It tells numerous separate stories that intersect along the way, some coming ever closer together as the film progresses.  It spans Bratislava, Vienna, Paris, London, Denver, and Phoenix.  There is no plot to speak of, only a series of character-driven vignettes that takes the viewer on a journey into the lives of numerous people.  We meet a full fourteen different major characters who I will briefly introduce below.  We are treated to moments in their lives and some characters and storylines I truly wanted more of – to know more about their background, their present lives in the film, and their future beyond the movie’s end.

The film introduces us to Mirkha (Lucia Sipsová) who takes the name Blanka when she signs up with an Internet prostitution site run by Rocco (Johannes Krisch); she does so much to the dismay of her clearly more grounded sister, Anna (Gabriela Marcinkova).  Blanka’s first date is to be with Michael (Jude Law) in Vienna, but he is stopped from meeting her when two sales colleagues see him in the bar and unknowingly interrupt his plans.  Michael is married to Rose (Rachel Weisz) who finds herself breaking off her own extramarital affair with Rui (Juliano Cazarré) about the same time her husband’s planned tryst is foiled.  After Rose breaks it off with Rui, he goes home to find his girlfriend Laura (Maria Flor) has found about his affair and has left him and London heading back to her home in Rio de Janeiro.  On the plane, Laura meets John (Anthony Hopkins) who she discovers is flying to Phoenix to see if a woman’s body found by the local police could be his missing daughter.  Though they have a friendly connection, she meets up with Tyler (Ben Foster) in the snowed-in Denver airport and takes him back to her hotel room not realizing that he is a recently released sex offender whose caseworker, Fran (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) has arranged for him to start a new life in Louisville, Kentucky.  Luckily, Tyler is able to control himself and does not take advantage of Laura when she passes out from too much wine.

Additionally, we meet Zina (Jamel Debbouze), a devout Muslim dentist in Paris who is in love with Valentina (Dinara Drukarova), his dental assistant.  She, in turn, is married to Sergei (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) who works for what we understand is an unscrupulous “businessman” known as Sania (Mark Ivanir).  She loves Zina, but he decides to terminate her position so as to be no longer tempted by her; this, of course, is a shock and disappointment to her as she wants to leave her husband for him.  In the end, Blanka has a “date” with Sania that does not end well when she calls Rocco for assistance with the demanding Sania while Sergei has met Anna on the street and the two drive off into the proverbial sunset together.

While I would ordinarily dislike a recounting of a cast of characters, 360 lends itself to this type of review.  Each role is terrifically cast and beautifully portrayed by the actors; indeed, I found each performance to be just about perfect.  Though each is on screen for such a relatively short time, they are able to provide the essential nature of their characters so that I felt I deeply understood them.  As I said, I wanted to know more about them – to see more of their lives and what happened once the screen went black.  That is the sign of a very fine film.