360

Everything comes full circle

Poster art for 360Combining impeccable filmmaking credentials and an intriguing premise, 360 is a dynamic and moving roundelay of love in the 21st century. Director Fernando Meirelles (City Of God, The Constant Gardener, Blindness) and writer Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) give us a distinctly modern take on Arthur Schnitzler’s classic play ‘Reigen’ (‘La Ronde’), the starting point for this interlocking series of encounters between people in different cities and countries.

Schnitzler’s original used ten pairs of lovers from different sections of Viennese society to show how sexual relationships can transgress social boundaries. Morgan and Meirelles broaden this out, as the film weaves through Vienna, Bratislava, Paris, London, Rio, Phoenix and Denver into a single, seamless narrative. An ambitious young woman sees sex as a way to escape her background; a respectable widower wrestles with the conflict between desire and religious principles; a man grieving his long-lost daughter forges a bond with a heartbroken girl; a married couple come to see each other with fresh eyes. Individual stories connect, choices are made and directions taken but, as always in Meirelles’s films, these are grounded in a sense of place. Each city the characters pass through feels real, vividly so.

As the narrative unfolds, what is also revealed is a terrific and well-chosen cast including Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Jamel Debbouze, Ben Foster and Moritz Bleibtreu, the ensemble nature of the piece encouraging strong performances across the board. Even so, Anthony Hopkins is outstanding in his affecting portrayal of a father unable to move on. Meirelles’s skill as a visual storyteller is much in evidence, and though helped by his locations, it is his composition within the frame that is most striking, complemented by some judicious use of split screens. The film also has a tremendous sense of motion, literally as its characters cross countries and continents, but metaphorically too, as each makes their own emotional journey.

– Sandra Hebron, London Film Festival

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