THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
Few things are as cinematically woeful as a movie that tries to say something profound but only ends up stating the obvious. 360 is as fine an example of this as you will find. Directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardner) and written by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen), the film is a self-important examination of, as the press notes describe it, “love, passion, and betrayal.” While it's true that all of those things are themes, 360 says nothing about them that you don't already know.
This is one of those movies, like Crash or Babel, where we meet a bunch of different characters whose lives intersect in various ways. A voiceover at the beginning talks about how when coming to a fork in the road, you should always take it. The people we meet are all taking the forks. Jude Law plays a businessman trying to hide the fact that he's hired a prostitute from the men he's making a deal with. Rachel Weisz is his wife, who's having an affair with a photographer. Ben Foster is a sex offender nervously reentering society. Anthony Hopkins portrays a man searching for his missing daughter. The Hopkins story is most interesting. While on a weather-related layover in an airport, he subtly adopts a young female traveler as a surrogate daughter. In each of these mini-tales – and a couple others I didn't mention – a character somehow gets involved with another person who changes their life, causing them to reevaluate the direction in which they're going. The point: People you encounter will shape your destiny! Well, of course they will. That's called life.
What 360 lacks is any sort of perspective on that rather apparent idea. It doesn't really find any greater meaning inside of it. A movie like Crash (love it or hate it) picked apart its subject from all sides, showing the various ways racism intrudes on our lives, either stealthily or blatantly. Babel, meanwhile, illustrated how one person's actions can affect complete strangers, often without that person's knowledge. Consequently, those films felt like they had something to say, or least a unique way of saying it. 360 moves its protagonists through a bunch of situations, never quite creating any compelling connection between their individual subplots. Meirelles makes the additional mistake of letting sections run on for ten or twelve minutes before cutting to something else, thereby creating a somnambulant pace. Moving back and forth between stories more quickly would have given 360 some much-needed momentum.
The sad part is that the acting is first-rate, with Foster and Hopkins in particular turning in strong work. The former is all twitchy anxiety as his character struggles to resist sexual impulses, while the latter makes you feel the heartbreak he experiences over not knowing his grown child's whereabouts. There's a scene in which Hopkins confesses what happened right before his daughter vanished, and he makes it heartbreaking.
It's easy to see where 360 could have been a real prestige picture. It has a high caliber of talent on both sides of the camera. It also looks great, with Adriano Goldman's cinematography giving the global locations a moody atmosphere that accentuates the often sad lives of their inhabitants. In the end, though, 360 simply fails to link the stories in a way that is moving or that says anything enlightening about the human condition. Instead of delivering a powerhouse ending, it fizzles out. The people we meet do indeed experience love, passion, and betrayal. I experienced boredom.
( out of four)
360 is rated R for sexuality, nudity and language. The running time is 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at Lulu.com! Paperback and Kindle editions also available on Amazon.com!