Overly-complicated plotting lets down underplayed performances from Jude Law and Rachel Weisz
In spite of a high-visibility, award-laden personnel – the writer of The Queen and Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan; the director of City of God and The Constant Gardener, Fernando Meirelles; Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz among the cast – this weighty worldwide web-of-life met with a lukewarm response at its Toronto premiere last year, and was slow in finding UK distribution.
Clearly it suffered from the fact that this sort of structure – multiple lives that touch and then split off in ways that emphasise both our separateness and our deep connections – has become a cliché, and an unsatisfying one at that. Looked at coolly, 360 has its successful elements and sequences. Law, Hopkins and Weisz, playing characters variously troubled by historical and current sexual indiscretions, are all unusually underplayed, and all good. The cinematography, by Adriano Goldman, is supple and elegant. The problem is that there is way, way too much going on, and limited depth. Morgan piles sub-plot on to sub-plot – infidelity! Eastern European sex traffic! Alcoholism! Blackmail! Rehabilitation of sex offenders! - as if he’s simply set himself a personal challenge to out-web Guillermo Arriaga (writer of Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel).
The consequence of this dubious ambition is that no character has time to develop, and crazed coincidences are required to keep them all in the required loop of interconnectedness. Morgan’s dialogue, meanwhile, is yet more clunkingily expositional than usual. The global success of The Queen was doubtless partly down to Morgan’s style of spelling things out for the benefit of the dullest-witted viewer; but in a film that affects to embrace complexity, his literalism is an awkward fit; and people are too prone to the sort of dramatic personality conversions that only happen in the movies.
Selected release from Fri 10 Aug.