Scripted by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon), 360 opens with the story of Mirka (Lucia Siposová), who is in the process of setting herself up as an escort to help pay her bills. She is accompanied to the meeting by her sister, Anna (Gabriela Marcinkova), who disapproves of her sister's decision but does not stop it. She muses about a wise man who once said "if you encounter a fork in the road, take it," and what that might mean. As she does, the movie follows Mirka to her first customer, Michael Daly (Jude Law), a married businessman who inadvertently gets talked out of his rendezvous by one of his prospective clients (Moritz Bleibtreu). Michael flies home the next day, where his nervous, unfaithful wife Rose (Rachel Weisz) awaits, and so on, and so forth, across a number of seemingly unconnected characters and events.
Director Fernando Meirelles moves swiftly through the movie's various connections and detours. Each story is snappy and well-paced, and many feature strong performances by the movie's impressive ensemble cast. Anthony Hopkins, most recently seen suffering under a pile of makeup and labored blocking in Hitchcock, gives a surprisingly nice turn as John, a man who is looking for his long-lost daughter. On his plane, he meets Laura (Maria Flor), a woman running away from her cheating boyfriend Rui (Juliano Cazarré) -- the other man in Rose's life -- and the two strike up a brief friendship over the alcohol cart. Later, Laura ends up drinking with Tyler (Ben Foster) in an airport bar while waiting for John to return with hotel vouchers to compensate for snow delays. She is unaware that Tyler is a convicted sex offender, dealing with the public for the first time in years. Finally, a connection between Anna and Sergei (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), the weary assistant to a mobster, has some nice, playful chemistry in it stemming from a charming partial language barrier.
Meirelles and Morgan weave these threads together with relative ease, and the movie is never dull during its 110-minute running time, but it doesn't seem like either of them has a grand point they want to make with the film's lattice of connections. In the "fork in the road" monologue (and in the Button sequence), there's the idea that if one had done one tiny little thing differently -- left a table a minute earlier, chosen a different word, walked down a different street -- that the entire scenario they're in could be different. It sounds more like the premise for something like Run Lola Run, in which multiple scenarios and outcomes based on the cast's tiny decisions are explored and dissected, but no such luck.
As someone who's likely to end up counting Cloud Atlas among the ten best movies of 2012, I have to admit that I don't particularly mind that 360 doesn't build to a big message or express an overarching philosophy with the idea that we affect one another in ways we don't understand. Like Atlas, Meirelles and Morgan appear to feel like the film becomes poetic or artful in its execution, and that the structure of the story is essentially what the movie is about. To that end, 360 is an enjoyable, if not particularly deep experience; although the little decisions we make each day may have a profound impact we'll never comprehend, 360 is unlikely to make much of one, other than an interesting and occasionally charming way to spend two hours.
The Video and Audio
360's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is mostly concerned with ambience and environmental effects. As this is an extremely low-key, naturalistic movie, one must listen closely for the excellent balance displayed in a crowded airport bar, or a small classroom used for AA meetings, or the interior of a fancy car. Music is also rendered very well, filling the soundscape with depth and vibrance. A subtle, but pleasing mix. English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing are provided, as are Spanish subtitles. Note that the subtitles are in addition to burned-in captions for the dialogue in the film that is not in English. Normally, burned-in captions are a no-no, but I do appreciate the artistic value of retaining permanent subs when a movie is intended for English viewers, but contains foreign dialogue.
Trailers for Take This Waltz, The Good Doctor, 2 Days in New York, The Queen of Versailles, and a promo for axs.TV (the new iteration of HDNet) play before the main menu. An original theatrical trailer for 360 is also included.