Review of 360

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Inspired by Arthur Schnitzler's classic play La Ronde, screenwriter Peter Morgan and director Fernando Meirelles' 2012 romantic drama film combines a modern and dynamic roundelay of stories into one, linking characters from different cities and countries in a vivid, suspenseful and deeply moving tale of love in the 21st century. Anthony Hopkins, Rachel Weisz, Jude Law & Ben Foster star.

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Movie Review: "360"

-- Rating: R
Length: 110 minutes
Release Date: August 2, 2012 (USA)
Directed by: Fernando Meirelles
Genre: Drama

Director Fernando Meirelles ("The Constant Gardener") understands the complexities involved in creating a film that touches viewers. In his latest film, "360," he does his best get the viewer involved in the movie, which focuses on the lives of a small group of people. Based on the play "La Ronde", the director uses the Arthur Schnitzler stage production as an inspiration for the movie, but he introduces new elements and characters along the way.

"360" tells the story of several individuals who share a sexual connection. It jumps from the two characters at the beginning to another set of characters, and the movie continues jumping around until it eventually leads the viewer back to the original actors. The movie pokes fun at itself, telling the viewer through narration that "if there's a fork in the road, take it," which explains why the film jumps around so frequently.

Each character in the movie has a sexual deviance that some audiences might find upsetting. Tyler (Ben Foster, "X-Men: The Last Stand") is a sex offender who recently got out of prison and has no idea what to do with his life. The viewer quickly learns that he wants a fresh start, but he is stuck in a Denver airport and faced with temptation around every corner. Another character, Mirkha (newcomer Lucia Siposova), is a Slovakian prostitute fighting the temptation to sleep with her pimp (newcomer Johannes Kirsch).

"360" literally jumps around the globe, introducing characters from different countries and finding ways to draw those characters into the story. Michael (Jude Law, "Sherlock Holmes") is a British man, married to the love of his life. Even as his wife waits for him at home, he's sneaking off to meet Mirkha. His wife Rose (Rachel Weisz, "The Mummy") has a secret: she is in the midst of her own clandestine affair. When her lover's girlfriend winds up on a plane, the audience meets John (Anthony Hopkins, "The Silence of the Lambs"). John serves as the voice of reason for the movie, if only because he recently lost his child and understands the pain that love can bring better than anyone else in the film.

Some viewers might see "360" and think of "Eyes Wide Shut," but with the exception of the sexual storylines, the movies have little in common. The original play focused on a smaller group of characters who felt sexually tempted by those around them. The author wanted to highlight the importance of sexuality in a Victorian culture, but the story loses something in its modern day setting.

The main problem with the film is that it doesn't spend enough time on any one character. By the time the viewer learns that Michael's wife has a lover, the film has already jumped into another story. As soon as the viewer gets invested in one story, the movie jumps to a second story, and that pace continues throughout the film. Viewers want to feel a connection to the characters when they watch a movie, but they don't get the chance to develop that connection with this one.

"360" does have some great moments that make it worth watching. Weisz is in her element as a woman trapped between the life she always wanted with a man who loves her, and the life she has with her lover. Law gets back to his roots as a character actor, playing a man so nervous about paying a prostitute that he can barely talk, and jumps whenever someone comes near him. It's very different from the playboy roles and sidekick roles he has portrayed in recent years.

While some viewers might go see this film because it features famous names like Hopkins and Law, it's the lesser known actors who really shine. Siposova is relatively unknown in English-speaking countries, but she has made a name for herself in Spanish movies. Her prostitute character is the one character that viewers will find most appealing. Despite her job, she is actually a well-meaning woman who struggles to find love while working a job she doesn't like.

Foster is another highlight in the movie. Though his character is one that no one should like, it's easy to get caught up in his story. Viewers will find themselves rooting for him to make the right choice, and will eagerly await the end of his story.

While "360" might not appeal to all movie viewers, it does have stellar acting, great sets, and a story that will have people thinking about the film for weeks.

Stars: 3 out of 5