In a market that’s so over saturated with celebrity stuffed films that scramble to tie together far too many plots that are way too unintelligible and regurgitated for our own good (Valentine’s Day, New Years Eve, What to Expect When You’re Expecting– the list goes on), seeing Fernando Meirelles’ (City of God, The Constant Gardener) name attached to 360 is quite exciting. However, it;s disappointing that the flat and quite frankly arid nature of 360 left me crawling out of the theatre on my hands and knees, depressed by the sick, sad world that 360 grounds itself in, and wondering if I was better off after all with those Ashton Kutcher and Sarah Jessica Parker cookie-cutter romantic comedies.
360, written by Peter Morgan, is an international narrative which ties together different stories of love, infidelity, and the often unseen dangers that mount themselves on the false walls of security which people all around the globe (young or old, rich or poor) surround themselves within. From its beginning, 360 lets us make no mistake that the next two hours will be nothing short of abrasive.
We see the nervous face of Mirkha (Lucia Siposová), a Czechoslovakian woman posing for photos taken by a sleazy photographer who boldly asks “20 beautiful girls on a webpage- why should they pick you?”, before telling her to take her shirt off. The questions seem routine, and in fact they are: we’ve already seen this desperate, uncomfortable, and predatory scene in hundreds of films before. But when we notice Mirkha’s sister sitting in the background, calmly and uninterestingly mowing away at a giant novel, it’s clear that the world that Meirelles’ presents in 360 is not quite as black and white as those that the Taylor Swift and George Lopez toting romantic comedies base them self in, and this is a good thing- at first.
Later, we are posited in the lives Michael (Jude Law), a young business man who desperately seeks any type of affection, be it for hire or given by his adulterous wife Rose (Rachel Weisz). Shortly after this we meet a nameless old man (Anthony Hopkins) in search of his missing daughter, and then later even introduced to a sexual predator named Tyler who is up for parole (Ben Foster) through a series of undeniably impressive transitional shots. The pedophile struggles to restrain himself as he watches little children in a busy airport while speaking to his P.O. on the phone. Michael and his wife have what they call a ‘Blackberry Romance’ that causes both of them to push the limits of their desires in the hopes of receiving some remote and uncertain comfort.
Most notable about Meirelles’ unpredictable eye is that as new characters become established even later on in the film one is never quite sure whose life we will invade next and this suspense is admirable. It is precisely that swift and impressive transitions of focus that makes 360 quickly ascend above the heavily clouded celebrity ‘variety pack’ rom-com statosphere. However, unlike the popcorn flick rom-coms that boast and intend to titillate viewers with the wackiness of their ‘its a small world after all’ themes, 360 seeks to do the opposite and desires for us to marvel at the utter disconnect between us and the people who literally stand right beside us.
These dilemmas are literally happening right next to each other, and none of the characters even have a clue as to the proximity of their miseries. By making us aware of the hopeless and shitty lives that cross our paths everyday, and how countless horrible events co-exists in ignorance of each other, 360 proves not why it’s hard for us to be aware of the dangers and evils that lurk at our thresholds- but rather why it is difficult to want to be.