Reviewed for Shockya by Harvey Karten
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Screenwriter: Peter Morgan
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Ben Foster, Dinara Drukarova, Gabriela Marcinkova, Jamel Debbouze, Johannes Krisch, Jude Law, Lucia Siposova
Screened at: Review 2, NYC, 7/24/12
Opens: August 3, 2012
“If you see a fork in the road, take it,” says a wise man in a quote that frames Fernando Merielles’ “360.” If this gives the impression that the film will be like a Zen koan, impenetrable for some in the audience but allowing epiphanies by others, that effect would be incorrect. Instead, “360” comes across as basically naturalistic rather than stylized, a straight story despite its frequent reappearances of the many characters and diverse and sundry plot lines, most of which deal with the consequences of adultery and thoughts of same. Meirielles, whose “City of God” in 2002 deals with two young men who choose different paths in Rio’s slums, takes a break from depictions of violence in favor of explorations of ethical violations in the sexual sphere.
With dialogue in Russian, Slovakian, English, French and Brazilian Portuguese, Peter Morgan’s script utilizes a cast of actors many of whom are unknown on our shores to depict a panorama of people who are in need of both more authentic types of human contact and who in most cases give in to their appetites for temporary satisfactions. Because of the large number of performers, the film substitutes breadth for depth, and though the mini-plots are uneven, those that are good are quite worthwhile to watch indeed.
The picture begins and ends in a photographer’s studio. A cameraman who doubles as pimp (Johannes Krisch) captures a Slovakian woman (Lucia Siposova) nude from the waist up, one who wonders how much money she will make once her photo is released to the Internet. Adriano Goldman’s cameras follow her to a bar where she is to meet a businessman, Michael Daly (Jude Law), the latter blackmailed by a salesman (Moritz Bleibtreu) who is angry that Daly was giving his business to an Estonian. Daly shouldn’t have worried since his wife, Rose (Rachel Weisz), has busied herself with a lover of her own, Rui (Juliano Cazarre). Rui, in turn, faces flak from his girlfriend, Laura (Maria Flor) for his sexual proclivities, but who has adventures of her own after being grounded in Denver on a flight back to Rio. She meets and chats with an alcoholic passenger (Anthony Hopkins) and, in the film’s most interesting episode, with a sex offender (Ben Foster) whom she invites to a Denver hotel room with unusual results.
At about the same time an Algerian dentist (Jamel Debbouze) must decide how to deal with his urges toward his Russian hygienist (Dinara Drukarova), which should not have been a problem since she seeks a divorce from her husband (Vladimir Vdovichenkov). But counsel from his imam—who insists that adultery is an insult to Islam and who is put off by the dentist’s rationalizations—forces the man to make a stupid decision.
Much of the story is filmed in Vienna, not the most attractive or romantic of European capitals, though it could serve as a reasonable choice when contrasted with snowbound Denver where canceled flights strand a huge crowd and allow for the aforementioned hotel dalliance. If love makes the world go round, adultery provides dollops of possibilities which, in scripter Morgan’s estimation, is often not quite worth the trouble.
Unrated. 113 minutes © 2012 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – C+
Acting – B+
Technical – B
Overall – B