360 Review

Beliefs are an odd thing.

Some people believe in themselves, but most don’t. A few believe in extra terrestrial creatures and even more that some form of Supreme Being created life itself.

Of course, these same people used to believe the earth was flat too.

And then there’s fate.

Or coincidence, depending on which side of the fence you stand.

In Fernando Meirelles’ 360, we go round the world and follow fragments of different people from all walks of lives, and the seemingly random encounters that connect them along the way.

We begin, and end, with Mirkha; a Slovakian girl who’s prepared to do whatever it takes to get out of the life she’s been born into.

So she adopts “Blanca” as her new nom de plume, before auditioning for a sleazy photographer in an equally sleazy shoot whose business is the oldest kind in the book.

Only this less than altruistic entrepreneur is rather more interested in making an even quicker buck out of his wealthy clientele than customer satisfaction.

Blanca’s first client, Michael Daly, is a successful businessman wrapped up in an increasingly workmanlike marriage.

Desperate to escape the banality and unconnected nature of his staid married life, Daly has booked Blanca to reconnect him with his humanity for the night.

Back home his wife, Rose, is feeling similarly dissatisfied with their marital non bliss, and has created an illicit connection of her own with an employee of hers.

And so it goes, as we follow each new character who’s introduced to the story and observe a fragment what’s going on in their life, until we come full circle and are reunited with the conclusion of Mirkha’s journey.

360 is a well constructed ensemble piece that takes the idea that we’re all connected in some six degrees of separation way, and explores the significant and not so significant choices people deliberate over when faced with a fork in their own road.

Inspired by German Playwright Arthur Schnitzler’s classic La Ronde, Peter Morgan’s script offers up romantic vignettes from all walks of life that examines the interconnectedness of life.

So there’s the Brasilian photographer who’s having an affair with Rose, his girlfriend who decides to fly back to Rio after discovering this, the very different experiences she has with two men on the flight home and the significance these encounters carry for them.

And so 360’s story is passed from one character to another until we eventually find our way back to Mirkha.

The rainbow cast of actors that hail from fourteen different countries help to create a nomadic spirit to their collective story that’s bigger than the sum of its individual parts. So, in spite of the big name presence of Anthony Hopkins, Rachel Weisz and Jude Law, no one narrative arc takes precedent over another.

As you’d expect of a script that only allows a finite amount of time to draw you into each character’s idiosyncratic little world, Morgan’s dialogue is taut and often brilliant; with the realistic exchanges luring you into their respective journey’s and conflicting emotions.

The overriding message of 360 is the importance of living in the present, something we all need reminding of at times.

Whoever you are, wherever you’re from and whatever you believe, we all get one chance to make our life everything we want it to be.

This summer, I didn’t say hello to the most alive girl I’ve seen in a long time because I believed it’d be strange to act upon my curious instinct whilst on the crowded northern line train home.

Boy, do I wish I could pull a 180 on that belief.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

October 2011