Fernando Meirelles’ latest is an interesting choice for the opening film to the 55th BFI London Film Festival and it finds the City of God director expanding his horizons to encompass sexual politics on a global scale with Rachel Weisz, Jude Law and Anthony Hopkins making up part of the ensemble cast.
The film is a globe-lassoing meditation of life with love and life without it, what needs to satisfy and what values to sacrifice in its pursuit and despite some nice ideas and a few decent performances this is a hollow start to a film festival which promises a vibrant and vital exploration of cinema from around the world. Writer Peter Morgan returns to similar ground covered in Hereafter and 360 suffers from the same quirk of watching people pass or crash and drift away like ships in the night, all the time we look to find something to hold to but Meirelles remains distant and any connection made falls as quickly as one story is left and another begins.
The film has a lot in common with Contagion, which Morgan referred in the LFF press conference but there was a clear central thread to Soderbergh’s film, there is no such thread here and each stop-start story is presented to us with a blank expression and leaves us as soon as we move on to the next. There is an initial curiosity about the interconnected storylines spanning continents, cultures and class and it is to Meirelles’ credit that he establishes the situation of each character ably but everything is too transient, nothing holds it to the ground.
There are some nice touches visually, some fine characters moments which break the surface of a distant and oddly banal script, the bodyguard at the door is one such example as is the seduction of Rachel Weisz’s character, but it’s a curious version of Love Actually without Christmas and without Love. The most engaging character comes in the form of Anthony Hopkins’ father searching for his missing daughter and his epiphany following a meeting with a woman on a plane, his weary gravitas is pitch perfect until the very last moment when he gives a speech to an AA meeting many miles from home which undermines all that has come before. Likewise the Jude Law/Rachel Weisz relationship in which begins with the two separately finding themselves in adulterous situations is neatly played until the final, almost incongruous scene with the two, again a hastily tied bow on a badly wrapped present.
Towards the end more epiphanies occur and each story comes to rest without ceremony or catharsis and perhaps this is the point. That the world continues to turn with betrayal and longing and all that jazz and nothing we do will make a difference. It feels wrong to come to this conclusion, surely there is more to the film than this?
There’s something to be said for the breadth of vision and serious intent here, and while 360 has its moments of genuine emotion these are few and too fleeting to touch the skin, let alone get under it.