Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Anthony Hopkins’ “360” on VOD—WTF?
It stars Academy Award winners Sir Anthony Hopkins and Rachel Weisz as well as two-time Oscar nominee Jude Law. It’s directed by Fernando Mereilles, who was nominated for Best Director for City of God and guided Weisz to her Best Supporting Actress win for The Constant Gardener. It’s written by Peter Morgan, who’s snagged Best Screenplay nods for The Queen and Frost/Nixon. And it’s available for viewing via Video On Demand in advance of its limited theatrical release next month. So where did 360 take a wrong turn?
The answer is: It didn’t. The business has changed, and smaller movies for grown-ups are getting squeezed off the big screen by shlockbusters in mega-wide release like The Amazing Spider-Man. The days of “direct-to-video” equalling a euphemism for “piece of crap” are gone. This year alone, quality films like Samuel L. Jackson’s The Samaritan, Willem Dafoe’s The Hunter and Bobcat Goldthwait’s God Bless America have premiered On Demand as well as streaming services like Amazon.com’s Instant Video. And 360 may be the best VOD debut yet.
I’ll confess, I’m a sucker for movies about overlapping lives, whether it’s Robert Altman’s Nashville and Short Cuts or Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 21 Grams and Babel. Maybe it’s the budding Buddhist in me, but I love the idea that we’re all interconnected—and it’s an even more powerful concept in the age of the World Wide Web, as Morgan’s script cleverly proves. The story begins—and ends—with an Internet hooker in Vienna, and interweaves plot threads involving an unhappily married couple in London (Law and Weisz), a recovering-alcoholic dad (Hopkins) searching for his presumed-dead daughter in Phoenix, and a freshly paroled sex offender (Ben Foster) struggling to stay on the straight and narrow in Denver. There are stops in Paris and Rio as well, and the only thing linking the story lines beyond chance encouters is the theme of infidelity, which also encompasses a devout Muslim determined to avert an affair with a married coworker in a dentist’s office and a Brazilian woman abandoning her philandering photographer boyfriend in England.
I’m on the record stating Hopkins is the world’s most overrated actor and that no one has ever said, “You know who was great in that movie? Jude Law.” Well, I must admit, I enjoyed both actors’ pained, restrained work here, and while Weisz’s limited role isn’t in the same league as The Constant Gardener, she’s still solid. The film’s best performance belongs to Foster, a fascinating actor in everything from masterpieces like Oren Moverman’s Rampart to genre fare like Jason Statham’s The Mechanic (and his upcoming roles as William S. Burroughs and John Gotti, Jr. should show off his range). His achingly subtle turn here recalls Jackie Earle Haley’s Oscar-nominated tour de force as a pedophile in Little Children. And the lesser-known cast members, among them Lucia Sipsová as the Slovakian prostitute and Marianne Jean-Baptiste (herself an Oscar nominee for Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies before getting sidetracked on CBS’ Without a Trace) as Foster’s counselor are equally fine.
Mereilles seamlessly uses split screens to track the multiple stories, making 360 resemble a highbrow episode of 24. And that’s not the only connection to Kiefer Sutherland—his new series, Touch, also attempts to connect seemingly disparate lives around the globe. Yet while that Fox drama is often heavy-handed, Mereilles, Morgan and their flawless ensemble truly have the magic Touch.
Have you seen 360, and was it a slam dunk? Post a comment, and I’ll bring the discussion full circle with a reply!