Directed by City Of God’s Fernando Meirelles and written by The Queen’s Peter Morgan, 360 has the pedigree, cast, and scope of a weighty film, but nothing much to say. The movie was inspired by Arthur Schnitzler’s 1897 play La Ronde, which daisy-chained pairs of lovers up and down the social scale, returning to the prostitute with whom things began. 360 also starts with a hooker—a modern, Internet-based escort who lives in Bratislava, but whose new profession requires her to trek to Vienna. With her sister tagging along for safety, she meets for appointments in hotel bars. From there, the film tracks her client, a London businessman (Jude Law) with a troubled marriage, then along to his wife (Rachel Weisz), who’s been having an affair with a Brazilian photographer, and onward through different characters across cities from Denver to Paris.
La Ronde used its structure to comment on themes of desire and class, while suggesting everyone was so getting syphilis. 360’s form simply seems like an end unto itself, following a domino-topple of failed or ended hookups around the globe. Like Babel or Crash, 360 is a film in which the concept of everyone being connected is left to stand in for greater meaning, though any sense of fleeting relationships in a globalized world frequently rings false. Morgan’s script demands characters act in frustratingly contrived ways to move the story along to its next link. A girl runs off with a total stranger because whee, seize the day! Another invites a guy she just met while delayed overnight at an airport back to her hotel room without telling anyone, even though he’s played by Ben Foster at his most gloweringly creepy. (And the character actually is a sex offender.)
360 does create an absorbing impression of the contemporary world as a place of porous borders, of people roaming far afield for work or loved ones, but being no happier for all their freedom. But that’s more of a lingering aftertaste than any kind of central flavor, the lack of which is notable. Fittingly for its occasional ring imagery, 360 is hollow in the middle. And in needing to skip along from character to character, the film doesn’t find anyone who makes a lasting impression. It feels like an screenwriting exercise rather than a complete thought as a film.