55th BFI London Film Festival Opening Gala: ‘360’ yet another “we’re all in this together” mediocrity

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Directed by Fernando Mierelles

Written by Peter Morgan

It’s not difficult to see why the organisers of the 55th London Film Festival selected the new film by Fernando Mierelles, the spherically titled 360, as the opening night gala film. As well as being written by British scribe Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon, Hereafter) and starring three of the UK’s most successful acting exports in the forms of Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz the film also presents a global tale than spans four continents, in a fashion that echoes the festivals international remit, considering its strands devoted to World Cinema, Cinema Europa, French Revolutions, New British Cinema, and many other experimental and historical programming frontiers. It also doesn’t hurt in having a few fantastically beautiful people to power the necessary red carpet star wattage for the all important gala publicity and punditry, it’s such a shame then that such a prestigious festival with a growing reputation in the celluloid calendar has seized upon such a tiresome film to champion its charms, as 360 is yet another entry in the now tedious list of ‘we’re all in this together’ movies which is as mildly unpleasant as the vacuous politicians who parrot such inanities.

Loosely adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s play La Ronde, the film has sex and its consequences as its central themes, as it opens appropriately enough in a seedy and gloomy Vienna. An ambitiously sultry call girl (Tereza Srbova) is having her glamour shots photographed by a lecherous pimp as her concerned younger sister Anna (Gabriela Marcinkova) looks on in concerted anxiety. Through a narrative branching that quickly diffuses the films focus and empathy the ardent hooker  is soon dispatched to meet a new client at an opulent hotel, and hey presto that salacious adulterer turns out to be none other than Jude Law, who evidently feels the need to cheat on his stunning wife Rose (Weisz) who in turn is banging some Brazilian photographer whom she has met through her high profile media job. The photographers infidelities has led his girlfriend Laura (Maria Flor) to flee home on a flight where she meets Anthony Hopkins, and then slightly drunk she hits on newly released serial rapist Tyler (Ben Foster) during a stopover break in a winter coaxed Denver – I’m not making this up. Further compounded the narrative the film skips, through conceited connections to Hopkins speech at an AA meeting where we met Valentina, (Dinara Drukarova)  a Soviet holidaymaker whom is lusted over by her boss (Jamel Debbouze), his desire thwarted as being a good Muslim he cannot covet a married woman. Katrina’s husband – as clearly there are not enough characters to go ‘around’ at this point – works for a scary Russian crime lord who orders him to get a call-girl, bringing us full circle as I’m sure you can you guess who that might be? Like sticky ships passing in the night  the film leapfrogs around the globe, from London to Colorado, Leipzig to Paris, in an intricate web of coincidence that never risks being anything but mildly diverting, whilst prompting a mental equivalent of connect the dots as you speculate on who and how will be conjoined next.

The most charitable review I’ve seen so far refers to 360 as Love Actually without the jokes, which I think you’ll agree is a horrifying proposition – well, it was terrifying with the jokes but I digress. The film seems to have the lofty ideals that are expressed in the likes of Babel and the Morgan-scribed Hereafter that we are now a global community, mediated through ubiquitous communication channels and devices (mobile phones and computers feature heavily in the film with the Russian henchman’s ring-tone abetting nervous titters at my screening) yet aren’t the gaps between us widening? Or something. Ugly linking techniques such as a plane dovetailing from one scene to the next and a redundant uses of split screen framing bludgeon in the ‘message’ (whatever it’s supposed to be), and where a vast canvas of players was strummed so effectively in the likes of Magnolia or Short Cuts this film has no interesting characters to examine, a problem exacerbated with the limited run-time making anything more than a paper thin skim across a surface simply impossible. Considering its title 360 concludes after a period which feels elongated to minuatory tedium, on a shockingly contrived confrontation in a glamorous hotel suite, as the end title design even decides to remind us that hey, it’s the ‘circle of life’ – give me Love Actually any day.

John McEntee

Visit the official website for the 55th BFI Film Festival

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