360 boasts an all-star ensemble cast and the always-intriguing premise of how all strangers are somehow connected in life. It interweaves the lives of various people around the world, subtly explaining that your actions not only have consequences in your own life, but also in strangers’ lives miles and miles away.
Written by acclaimed screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) and directed by the beloved Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener), 360 was nominated for Best Film in 2011 at the London Film Festival and has been applauded by critics around the globe.
The film opens on Lucia Siposová as she portrays a young lady named Mirka, looking to make a quick buck as a high-end prostitute in Vienna. She is not completely comfortable with the idea and is being photographed by a stranger for his business’s website. The audience is shown very little about the woman except that she has a sister who she is also providing for.
From there, the movie follows Mirka to a hotel where she is to meet her first client, traveling businessman Michael Daly (Jude Law), who decides to not take the conquest when he runs into associates in the hotel bar.
The plot goes in and out of these characters’ lives, introducing new people and revisiting ones already shown to the audience, fully examining how intermingled these existences all are. Going into the film knowing very little is the best bet, as most of the fun is seeing how all of these people end up coming together.
A variety of conflicts and real-world troubles are played out in the 110 minutes on-screen, giving nearly everyone something they can relate to. Rachel Weisz plays magazine editor Rose and is dealing with issues of infidelity and raising a family. Anthony Hopkins meets a stranger on a plane that reminds him of his long-lost daughter. Ben Foster is a struggling sex offender looking to put his troubled past behind him.
Once the camera lands on a new character, it follows them through a day or so of their lives until hopping onto a new one and following them for a bit. Each small personal vignette could really be amplified into a feature film of its own, and that’s why 360 works so well.
Though the point is to show several interwoven tales, they all are so well-written and put together with such solid direction and inspiring performances that they each could stand alone and work as either short films or perhaps be built into feature-length stories. Many films of this nature don’t have that credit to rest on, and that is one thing the skilled screenwriter and director have contributed to the piece.
Another trick utilized in the film is the side-by-side shots of telephone calls, conversations off-screen and other characters’ reactions that bring those who might not be in the same room on the same playing field in certain instances. These edits and shots also serve as easy transitions from one story to another, and are a clever addition to keep the film moving.
Though lasting nearly two hours, the movie moves along at a great pace, never boring the audience but also diving headfirst into each story, creating an instant need for closure and resolved conflict at each turn.
The star power is also carefully balanced alongside the relatively unknown actors, having everyone on equal footing with the other. Having said that, Foster and Hopkins steal the show, and their performances leave the longest lasting impressions after the film ends. Hopkins gives one of the more complex performances of his recent filmography, which is littered with things like Thor, The Rite and Beowulf. Here, it’s a quiet and genuine look at an older man suffering from a huge heartache that pulls one in.
Foster effortlessly slides into his dark role of Tyler McGregor, a young man coping with horrific crimes in his past and putting all of his energy into somehow moving past them. Put in a compromising position, his story is the most nail-biting of the film—both hard to watch and impossible to turn away from.
Another balancing act that seamlessly works is the various locations that have to each appear as important and interesting as the previous one so that the narrative doesn’t lose steam or get bogged down in the background. 360 takes the viewer on an ethereal journey around the world, starting in Vienna and making stops in Bratislava, Paris, London, Rio, Phoenix and Denver. Sometimes shot only in airports of cities, each place has its own feel but still somehow fits into the movie as a whole and never strays from focusing on the core of the plot, which is the people who live and travel through these often exotic locations.
360’s stories don’t culminate into quite the end payoff that one might be expecting, but it’s a great ride throughout and never ceases to captivate its audience anecdote after anecdote, leaving viewers yearning to know more about all of these people they quickly became attached to.
360 is now playing at The Landmark 12.
For more information, visit the film’s official website.