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Friday, August 17, 2012 - Page updated at 02:30 p.m.
'360': Globe-trotting drama trips on character entanglements
By Stephanie Merry
The Washington Post
It's not easy to make a successful multinarrative ensemble drama. When the genre works, a collection of small stories add up to compelling revelations about big, important themes. Just look at "Crash" (an examination of racism), "Traffic" (the drug trade) and "Syriana" (the oil industry).
When the approach doesn't come together, it tends to look like "360."
The globe-trotting movie touts a long list of big names, including "City of God" director Fernando Meirelles, "The Queen" screenwriter Peter Morgan and actors Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins and Jude Law. And though the cinematography looks sleek, the stories equate to a tangled mess.
The movie is an adaptation of the 115-year-old play "Reigen" by Arthur Schnitzler. That work features a series of two-character scenes. As if passing the baton, one character from each vignette moves on to the next duet, until the final interaction, which includes a character from the initial one. "360" doesn't take such a streamlined approach.
The multitudinous tales take place in Colorado, Paris, London and Vienna, among other destinations, and feature the parallel stories of a husband (Law) and wife (Weisz), each of whom is unfaithful; a man (Hopkins) in search of his runaway daughter; a dentist (Jamel Debbouze) enamored of his married employee; and a sex offender (Ben Foster) tentatively leaving prison for the first time in years.
Some characters recur, others don't. The common thread appears to be romantic entanglements, though there aren't any deeper messages to be found.
There is an overarching emotion, however; nearly every character struggles with fidelity, which translates to an exhausting cynicism.
If nothing else, the movie reminds filmgoers just how difficult it can be to pull off the multithread approach. Sometimes it's possible to take a spool of yarn and knit together a stunning creation. "360" looks more like what happens when a cat gets a hold of the ball.
Copyright © The Seattle Times Company
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