More of a visualized connect-the-dots puzzle than a conventional linear feature film, director Fernando Meirelles (City of God) and writer Peter Morgan's (The Last King of Scotland) globe trotting drama examines the consequences and repercussions love has on our personal lives, and in ways we'd never expect in the lives of others. Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins, and Ben Foster are part of a wide ranging eclectic cast, with each character vaguely connected to the other in a series of vignettes of how one person's love in one story influences another character's life in the next. As the film progresses, and we move from short story to short story, Meirelles and Morgan eventually bring the narrative full circle; tying the later players back to those featured in the beginning. It's a risky endeavor to compose any feature as ambitious as this, but most involved seem up for the challenge. However, being willing to fully commit to such a possibly burdensome project, and the ability to execute it with success is a different ballpark all together.
Despite its grandiose aspirations, 360 ends up being a somewhat pretentious mess, but a mess with an occasional spark of absolute genius. The dramatic sketches only last around five or six minutes apiece, so there's almost no time for character development. In large part, the scene lives or dies based off the actor's ability to set up their portrayal in the short amount of time provided. While actors such as Anthony Hopkins and Ben Foster, as an older British man going to Phoenix to check a morgue for his long since disappeared daughter, and a reformed sex offender respectively, are able to quickly establish their character with ease, the majority of the cast is less fortunate. Especially during the first half, there's nothing necessarily on display other than mundane melodrama played out by a seemingly bored Jude Law and Rachel Weisz, both seemingly phoning it in on a project that needs excellent acting to keep the audience interested.
At around the halfway point, for around 20 minutes Meirelles and Morgan's dull fiasco catapults into the high stakes, powerful romantic drama promised by the premise. Starting with a charming plane conversation between Hopkins and newcomer Maria Flor, ending with a beautifully written monologue in a AA meeting in Phoenix stunningly delivered by Hopkins, with a tense, masterfully shot encounter between Flor and Foster in an airport hotel room in the middle, it's a stroke of genius in an otherwise ambitious failure. It shows, given the strength of the actors, what the project could've been in a perfect world. Unless 2012 ends on a abnormally fantastic note, Hopkins and Foster are now two of my leading candidates for best supporting performances of the year.
While, in general, it's a disappointment considering the talent involved, and the project's ambition, 360's all too brief spurt of genius is able to redeem the majority of flaws. It's definitely mess, but there's at least enough good to recommend it, if only for its suburb middle section.