TIFF '11 Review: Fernando Meirelles' International Love Story '360' May Leave His Fans Heartbroken

by Cory Everett
September 13, 2011 3:00 AM
15 Comments
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In a photo studio in Vienna, a sleazy photographer (Johannes Krisch) is coaxing a young Slovakian woman Mirkha (Lucia Siposová) into posing for her first nude pictures. We soon find out this man is also a pimp and the pictures are for luring clients on the internet. Her younger sister Anna (Gabriela Marcinkova) tries to persuade her to reconsider but she has her mind made up. She needs the money and wants to change her life. Her sister intones through darkly humorous voiceover “If there’s a fork in the road, take it.” It’s a highly provocative opening for what ends up being just a so-so anthology of interweaving tales, even though director Fernando Meirelles ("City Of God," “The Constant Gardener”) assembles an international cast with interwoven stories spanning Vienna, Paris, London, Bratislava, Rio, Denver and Phoenix.

Jude Law plays a family man on a business trip to Vienna who signs up to be Mirkha’s first customer, only to lose his nerve after being approached by some colleagues at the bar where the two were supposed to meet. His wife (Rachel Weisz) however, isn’t as shy. She’s back in London having an affair with a hunky 25-year-old photographer. He also has a girlfriend (Maria Flor), who leaves him to return to Brazil when she decides she's had enough of his philandering. Mirkha’s foray into prostitution, or the unhappily married couple could have made for interesting movies by themselves but there are still a half dozen more storylines to squeeze in here, including a convicted sex offender (Ben Foster) being released from prison, an older man (Anthony Hopkins) who refuses to give up hope of finding his daughter who went missing years ago, a dentist ("Amelie"'s Jamel Debbouze) in love with his assistant (Dinara Drukarova), and on and on.


Much of the film seems to hinge on a character making a crucial decision (a recurring one being 'to cheat or not to cheat?') though their outcomes aren’t always determined by their actions. Some cheaters are redeemed, some loves go unrequited because everyone at some point becomes a victim of circumstance. Because the film contains so many characters spread out all over the globe with only a single link between each, the film plays more like an anthology (like “Paris, Je T’Aime”) than a multicharacter drama whose characters arcs are linked together inextricably, like we get in, say, "Magnolia." And as with most anthologies, some of the storylines are more successful than others, (as suspenseful as the scenes with Foster’s sex offender are, we’re not entirely sure they belong in the same film).


Meirelles clearly relishes the opportunity to work with actors from so many different countries and backgrounds and no doubt the scale of the piece is part of what drew him to the project. Perhaps energized from what must have been a tight production schedule (shooting didn’t begin until earlier this year), Meirelles and DoP Adriano Goldman (“Jane Eyre,” “Sin Nombre”) shoot the film with a vibrant energy. The ensemble give respectable performances across the board, in several languages, but the film's problems mainly lie with the screenplay. Written by Peter Morgan ("Frost/Nixon," "The Queen") and based loosely on a play by Arthur Schnitzler (who penned the novel “Traumnovelle” which became the basis for "Eyes Wide Shut"), the film gets at some interesting thoughts about people’s capacity for duplicity, but spreads itself thin on too many stories, not all of them as compelling as they need to be.


Because of the limited time devoted to each character, they tend to come off a bit simplistic and clichéd. If the film had not been afraid to go a little darker (like its sexually frank opening), dig a little deeper, and develop its characters beyond their stereotypes, it would have been a much stronger effort. Instead we get snapshots of distant people at divergent points in their lives that can only skim the surface of what makes them tick. Many have been waiting for Meirelles to make a film as compelling as “City Of God,” but unfortunately for fans of the director, this overlapping tale of love isn’t it. The film is a handsomely produced ensemble drama but its pleasures are fleeting, then it's on to the next thing. [C+]

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15 Comments

  • Debbie | September 14, 2011 12:18 PMReply

    Michael, your motives are as clear as glass. The only reason you don't like Rachel Weisz is because you don't like some of the political stuffs of her films. It has nothing to do with her acting at all, so spare people the lies and nonsense. Reading your political diatribe is getting very tiring.

  • Michael | September 14, 2011 12:07 PMReply

    Oh wow, look where including that snipe got me. No I am not a conservative; I am in fact about as left as they come. I guess I can't verify that really, but just trust me when I say it. You're misreading my posts entirely to frame my argument as a conservative diatribe, which I went to great pains to disprove in that third post. Again, it's not liberalism that I hate, it's lazy self-congratulatory liberalism that I hate (Crash is probably a great example of this, actually. We can all agree on that one, right?). Hollywood (and Indiewood perhaps even moreso) is full of all kinds of halfheartedly liberal fairy tales because they know their undiscerning audiences will eat them up. Truly challenging films, art films, don't get that kind of exposure because they're a little too far left. If you don't believe me, take a look at Godard's filmography and tell me how much of his 70s-90s run is available in America.

    I should clarify my Deep Blue Sea accusation. Terrence Davies was singled out for greater acclaim than Weisz in general, but that does not preclude recognition of Weisz. That recognition is ultimately meaningless to me, though, and perhaps this is where we reach an impasse. As with her Oscar six years ago, no amount of praise can convince me Weisz is a good actress. In fact I'd probably be more prone to take that Oscar into consideration if I hadn't actually seen The Constant Gardener. But I have, and it was quite awful (Fernando Meirelles, incidentally, is another would-be great who really hasn't proven his talent at all since his arrival on the scene, though even he has the decent City of God to his name). And as for The Whistleblower, the less said about that, the better.

    So yeah, I think we're about done with this argument. No one is convincing anyone at this point. You all like Rachel Weisz, I don't. It's not because I'm an angry conservative. It's actually more like I'm an angry liberal who hates the faux-liberal circlejerk the movie industry has become. Because it does have a liberal bias, but only liberal enough that it won't offend the conservative people in charge. Easy liberalism, like denouncing racism (Crash and The Help. Timely!) and sorta-denouncing homophobia (Brokeback Mountain, with its punishment of Jake Gyllenhaal for being the 'bad gay'), has no place in my viewing schedule.

  • Greg's son | September 14, 2011 1:04 AMReply

    Mike, your posts are so politically bias that its it's funny to read. It has nothing to do with Weisz's acting at all, just your political views. Notice how you failed to mention the high marks someone brought up that Weisz got for her performance in the Whistleblower but you will not because it blows your argument about Weisz being a bad actress out of the water. Which proves that your problem with Weisz is political and it's not about her talent.

  • Samantha | September 13, 2011 12:11 PMReply

    No offense Michael but i can't take your criticism of Rachel Weisz seriously, i just can't. Your beef with seems more political ideology than acting and you seem like you just making things up to justify your hate.

  • Paul | September 13, 2011 12:05 PMReply

    Saw "360" and you guys are being too generous, I give it a D. It's a mess and great actors such as Rachel Weisz, Ben Foster and Anthony Hopkins are barely in the film to begin with. The narrative is all over the place and it does not truly connect at all towards the end.

    And Michael, while I respect your opinion, you trying to shove it down people throats does not help your argument. It's an opinion, not a fact and if you are going to try to give facts, the reviews that praise Davies also praises Weisz as well. As for the movie" The Deep Blue Sea", I saw it yesterday morning and Weisz's performannce was wonderful, again, that's my opinion. I'm not making it a fact like you are trying to.

    And you do sound like a right wing person with a personal problem.

  • Michael | September 13, 2011 11:47 AMReply

    As for "feel-good liberalism," that's not exactly limited to Rachel Weisz, nor am I a conservative railing against the supposed liberal media. When I say "feel good liberalism," I'm talking stuff like The Whistleblower, The Station Agent, The Constant Gardener, Freedom Writers, and The Help. The stuff middle-aged closet conservatives lap up and regurgitate when forced to justify their so-called liberalism. You know, the kind of stuff Pauline Kael scoffed at all those years ago in her famous quote (though I doubt m/any of you read Kael). Rachel Weisz is fast becoming the top purveyor of it, and that's just another reason I don't like her. And unlike, say, Viola Davis or Ralph Fiennes, I can't excuse her from a misguided prestige project because she seems so eager to attach herself to every one of them that comes her way. Couple that with her acting deficiencies and you have what I think is a pretty thorough rationale for my distaste.

  • Michael | September 13, 2011 11:39 AMReply

    Thank you JJ for actually getting what I was saying.

    The rest of you: learn to gauge a tone. Also, specific examples aren't really needed when I'm making a blanket statement. I'm literally saying everything I've seen her in has left me cold (Constant Gardener included, though it'd be unfair to blame her entirely). Buzz is less than muted on 360. You could make an argument for The Deep Blue Sea, but even then that movie seems to have gone over pretty lukewarm as well, and most reviews I've read are singling out Davies more than Weisz.

    As I said before, no film in which she's had a notable role has benefitted from her involvement. Not that she's maliciously harming those projects or anything. More like she's getting casted on this assumption of talent that I've really yet to see justified, despite an Oscar and years of work. TIFF is pretty much the apex of this absurdity, with both her high profile projects being less than enthusiastically received (on the whole, that is, as I know both have their defenders). Unless she gets better or takes smaller roles better suited to her (limited, I say) talents, this is an untenable position.

  • Edward Davis | September 13, 2011 9:59 AMReply

    The worst part of the comments on this site bar none is that it's just ravaged by fanclubs. So if a writer or even a commentor decides to knock someone they don't like, a fanclub descends. I don't think Michael is right at all, but god, calling in the cavalry with this shit is just TEDIOUS. Stop, just stop.

  • Dina | September 13, 2011 9:57 AMReply

    I'm sure Michael saw not many Rachel Weisz' movies. Ironically he can’t even say in which movies she was so terrible. Just generalizations.

  • Zeal | September 13, 2011 9:52 AMReply

    "Has Rachel Weisz ever been in a good movie?"

    I can list you many great films by Rachel Weisz Mike but when you write stupid stuff like:

    "except at least they don’t hide behind a veneer of respectability and feel-good liberal pretense."

    Kind of shows where your mentality is Mike. Your opinion is a joke.

  • Kelly | September 13, 2011 9:44 AMReply

    Michael, do you even know what the hell you are talking about? Rachel not only does she have an Oscar but is consiterd by even her peers to be one of the best actreses of her generation. Not only is she getting Oscar talk for " The whistleblower but getting some good word of mouth for "Deep Blue Sea".

    When you open your mouth, at least try to know what the hell you are talking about. And no one cares about your personal problem with Weisz.

  • JJ | September 13, 2011 4:50 AMReply

    Could not disagree more on Rachel Weisz. She is easily one of the finest actresses working today. The thing is, her career has not lived up to her talent so far. She just seems to continually choose projects from prestige directors that end up being misfires. On paper, you can't fault her for signing up for films from people like Peter Jackson, Wong Kar Wai or now this Meirelles film. But none of those films worked. (Even her collaboration with Aronofsky was his least-acclaimed film). But unlike some of her contemporaries who also choose their roles based on the director (Kidman and Winslet come to mind), she's just had rotten luck and the disadvantage of not being offered many leading roles.

    That said, calling her mediocre is absurd. She is almost always the highlight of whatever film she's in, even in the more commercial stuff like Definitely, Maybe and The Brothers Bloom. I just think we haven't yet seen what she's fully capable of. Get on it, Hollywood.

  • Michael | September 13, 2011 4:20 AMReply

    Has Rachel Weisz ever been in a good movie? I don't think I've ever seen a mediocre actress win such disproportionate praise. All I've ever seen her do is stumble through whatever role she's been given, and never once have I felt a role of hers couldn't be recasted to greater success. Despite that, she somehow manages to work with every famous director and bring nothing to their films, sometimes even outright harming them (usually very proportionate indeed to her amount of screentime). At this point she's becoming the kind of warning sign Adam Sandler and Kevin James usually are, except at least they don't hide behind a veneer of respectability and feel-good liberal pretense.

  • buntyhoven | September 13, 2011 3:49 AMReply

    Haha! Look at Ben Foster's sex pest wardrobe. What an absurd costume.

  • juicy | September 13, 2011 3:35 AMReply

    "The film is a handsomely produced ensemble drama but its pleasures are fleeting, then it’s on to the next thing."
    Maybe that's the whole point.

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