The integer 360 represents the number of degrees in a perfect circle, but it also marks the amount of times you’ll turn to the person next to you and say “oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!” as you watch Fernando Merielles’ film of the same name.
This latest entry into the “we’re all connected” subgenre fails on its most basic level – only a handful of the characters actually are connected and even fewer of them experience any change at the conclusion of the film. Merielles’ motive may have been to show how our actions effect the world around us, but his methods are to film a whole bunch of micro scenes with as many actors as possible and hope that something he slaps against the screen sticks.
We open with two sisters from Bratislava in Vienna. One is really, really excited about her first day on the job as a high end call girl. The other, a morally pure (and much more attractive) woman who can’t keep her nose out of her Tolstoy novel, is just along for the ride. Because everyone just kinda hangs out when their sister prepares to prostitute herself.
Her first John is an English conventioneer (Jude Law) who bumps into a business contact just as he’s about to walk over to his hired evening companion. He escapes without being caught and calls his wife to profess his undying love. He thinks he’s gotten away but the businessman (a nasty German) catches wind of what was going on and blackmails him into doing a deal.
The narrative changes quickly, probably so you wouldn’t ask “blackmails him to whom?” Telling the man’s wife wouldn’t get him the contract he needs and telling the man’s boss wouldn’t do much damage either. Law would have perfect cover by saying “that man will do anything for the contract!” or maybe Law’s boss wouldn’t even care what his agent does when he’s out of town.
It is just one of a whole number of scenarios that, since the story is purposefully meandering, may inspire a viewer to say “um, life doesn’t really work that way.”
The most preposterous of these scenarios happens during a storm delay at an airport. There’s a woman traveling from London to Brazil (via Denver and Miami, for some reason.) She’s a the jilted lover of the man who was sleeping with (but has just been dumped by) Jude Law’s wife. On the plane she can’t stop yapping to Anthony Hopkins and they decide they are going to get lunch.
Because of long lines, she winds up drinking with a very twitchy Ben Foster. Turns out he’s on his way to a halfway house, taking his first steps from a prison sentence for sex crimes. This hot Brazilian is throwing herself at him (even though he’s gross) and he’s doing his best live action Quagmire impression.
Suddenly they are back in her room at the airport hotel. There, the consenting adult woman begs for sex. He flips out, pleasures himself in the bathroom and leaves. The next day, the Brazilian sees Anthony Hopkins again, all smiles. He’s a new man, too, because she left him a note at the restaurant to the tune of “I saw a cute guy and I’m gonna go for it!” This tissue paper thin moment is, for some reason, a great insight to Hopkins, who decides to end his years-long, futile search for his missing daughter (don’t ask.)
There are many more of these little moments, all of them (save the last one) similarly lacking in action. The final beat once again involves our Slovakian prostitute – because Hopkins goes to an AA meeting in Arizona, and elsewhere in the room is a Russian woman whose husband works for a guy looking who eventually hired her for sex. The Slovakian is ostensibly our “good character” (even though her moment of triumph involves the calculated murder of strangers) and the implication is that somehow her actions set everything in motion. But that’s just not true. Not only has she set nothing in motion, the connections are ridiculously tenuous.
When the Russian John’s driver takes the prostitute’s sister for a spin and says “And now we’ve come FULL CIRCLE,” I realized ’360′ at least has some use as a master class in bad writing. My jaw hit the floor when the closing credits declared the screenplay by Peter Morgan of ‘The Queen’ and ‘Frost/Nixon.’ He must’ve lost a bet or something.‘360’ is available on VOD now and hits select theaters on August 3rd.
Jordan Hoffman was the movies editor at Hearst Digital’s UGO for four years and currently contributes to SlashFilm, MTV’s NextMovie and StarTrek.com. He’s made two marginally successful independent movies, is a member of the New York Film Critics Online and was named IFC’s Ultimate Film Fanatic of the NorthEast in 2004. Follow him on Twitter at @JHoffman6.