Le cercle bland
Lasting two largely inconsequential hours, 360 indeed goes full circle, but the round trip is, for the most part, devoid of significance or force. To be honest, this is one of the strangest films I have seen in recent years. It is not substantial or even inspired, but it is also not unpleasant. It does exist, this I can confirm.
Fate. Romance. Chance encounters and complex decisions. In Paris, a dentist nurses a crush on a female employee, but is afraid to pursue her because he is religious, and she has a husband, a gangster. Then there are two Eastern European sisters, one of whom is a prostitute. Jude Law portrays a traveling executive (and frustrated husband) who almost meets the prostitute in a bar in Vienna, but is diverted.
Meanwhile in London, his wife, a magazine editor played by an underutilized Rachel Weisz, tries to leave her lover, a photographer whose actual girlfriend, tired of his deception and inability to remain faithful, has returned home to South America. On the plane, she sits next to a sad-eyed Welshman (Anthony Hopkins) whose daughter vanished years ago and is presumed dead, but he is unable to let go. In the airport when the plane lands is an unstable convicted rapist (Ben Foster, unsettling) just released from prison and trying to avoid temptation. And so it goes around the globe. A few elements feel lifted from other, superior films, ranging from The Sweet Hereafter to Trainspotting.
On the surface, the film resembles pictures such as Traffic, Crash, and Babel, in which various unrelated characters and storylines intersect and influence each other, forming a panoramic portrait of a subject or theme: racism, terrorism, the war on drugs, and so on and so forth. To its modest credit, I s'pose, 360 is not interested in political or social sermonizing. It is just an expansive, low-key, wistful collection of unusual choices and romantic gestures.
It is a shame, though, individuals as talented as director Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener) and writer Peter Morgan (The Queen) could not have gone further or deeper. Yes, the various locations, from Austria to England to France to the United States, are photographed with atmospheric and crisp elegance. There is a particular fascination with methods of travel, with scenes often unfolding in cars or on airplanes, buses, or subways. And, yes, the performances are fine, though almost no one is given room to play, except perhaps Hopkins, who performs an extended, thunderous, borderline over-the-top speech in a scene set at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Still, despite these qualities, the enterprise never finds its center.
There is not a great deal wrong with the picture, not in a specific sense. At the same time, though, it is almost never interesting or riveting. One might have a more provocative experience dreaming during a two-hour nap.