Circular, multi-saga dramas are a tricky business. The story count, characters and sense of meaning all have to be perfect or the whole film collapses in on itself. Sadly, 360 doesn’t get any of these elements right. The film, written by Peter Morgan (The Queen and The Last King of Scotland, both 2006) and directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God, 2002), wanders aimlessly through the lives of an enormous array of people in search of profundity but, taking into account the length of time it spends trying to deliver a message, the end result isn’t particularly sophisticated.
Aside from the tedious reminder that we are all connected, the only statement being made is that when we reach important decisions in our lives we’d be best to just pick an option and go for it. Saying that, a couple of storylines seem to either reach no conclusion or end up jarring with the others. The Muslim dentist wrestling with a religious-belief threatening dilemma is a case in point. Even the tales that hang together – Anthony Hopkins searching for his daughter, the intelligent sister of a prostitute running off with a criminal’s driver, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz’s struggling marriage – say little about love, loss and adultery that hasn’t been said before.
There are just too many different stories, or forks to borrow the film’s road-related metaphor and the result is that many feel under-developed. There’s nothing worse than watching an interconnected drama and wishing you could have seen more of some characters and less of others; 360 falls head-first into this trap and fails to clamber out. Star power galore can’t save it either, though Hopkins comes closest, with his 15 minutes carrying the clearest of emotion and meaning.
Meirelles succeeds in making the transitions between the characters pretty seamless so that 360, on surface level, appears to be telling one story. A closer look, however, reveals it to be at best confused and at worst clichéd.
Joshua has awarded 360 two Torches of Truth.