Somewhere between singular meteoric success and canonization lies the two-hit wonder: failing to sustain a certain level of quality, interest in the artist who once seemed so vital and amazing slowly declines and becomes trivia. This may be an overly grim assessment, but the career trajectories of Paula Cole or Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener, Blindness) seem to suggest its validity.
With an eye towards what made his previous films successful (namely Rachel Weisz and crime), Meirelles’s latest effort, 360, is a Guillermo Arriaga–style update of La Ronde. Beginning and ending with the travails of rookie prostitutes, the globetrotting plot privileges irony above all else. The chain of sexual partners that motivates the film’s jumps in time and geography is broken only a quarter of the way through in service of trite attempts at shock. Thus, unlike the film’s stated Ophulsian inspiration, the fact that we are connected proves nothing other than we’re all connected. In an age of globalization and social media, who could this possibly be news to?
Worse than failing to obey its own stated logic (and how a plane flying from London to Rio could have a layover in Denver) is 360’s slight dialogue, which feels like it’s been through an online translator rather than directly from The Queen scribe Peter Morgan. Like the plot, it careens from being laughably obvious (“We’ve come full circle”) to resembling utterances from a depressed teen (“I actually love you. Sorry about that”).
As someone who has written a movie that is essentially all talking (Frost/Nixon), there may be a good argument to be made that this is perhaps an attempt by Morgan to drive home the dull practicality of global English. But the evident disinterestedness of the cast (which, in addition to Weisz and about a dozen other actors, includes Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, and Jamel Debbouze) only help drive home the worthlessness of the endeavor. Spending 111 minutes watching people at the mall would be a more illuminating study of human behavior—and undoubtedly more entertaining.