360. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Ben Foster. Directed by Fernando Meirelles. Rated MA 15 + (adult themes, nudity, sex scenes, drug use, coarse language). 110 minutes.
Not exactly a perfect circle, one episode leading into the next and then the next…, even though this film takes its inspiration from Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde. Rather, there are all kinds of interconnections within the circle – which does lead us back to where we started. And that is with a Slovakian woman posing for a photographer who is, in fact, a pimp, sending her out on an assignation which leads us to a British businessman, Jude Law. But the scene shifts to Paris and another story, and to the United States where a convicted sex offender is being transferred to a parole situation. And so on. By the end, we have discovered the various degrees of separation and the surprising degrees of connection.
Some of the episodes are quite dramatic, others much milder. The latter is particularly true, unfortunately, of the British episode with Jude Law and Rachel Weisz as unfaithful husband and wife who rediscover something between them. Perhaps the most interesting story centres on Ben Foster as the sex offender - Foster seeming to specialise on repellent characters (3:10 to Yuma, The Mechanic). Delayed at Denver airport by snow, he is tense, wary of re-offending, chatting to a young Brazlian woman, returning home after a bad relationship with a photographer in London (who was having an affair with Rachel Weisz, so one begins to see connections and tangles) who is very confronting, alarming him. She had been sitting next to Anthony Hopkins on the flight. And so on.
The screenplay is by Peter Morgan who has shown more insight and versatility in his political dramas, The Deal, The Special Relationship, The Last King of Scotland, The Queen. One arresting sequence concerns Anthony Hopkins at an AA meeting. His words might have been written by Hopkins himself about his own recovery from alcoholism decades earlier. He then pays tribute to a priest who had helped him considerably, a Jesuit who alerted him that he would have a moment of grace and would recognize it. Quite a positive image of a priest for contemporary films.
It is the actors from Eastern Europe who make an impact, especially in a climax that is a combination of exploitation, violence, romanticism, and undeserved luck.
More of a time-passing entertainment than a study of human nature.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out 6th November 2012.