Toronto reception takes ‘360’ back to zero

Posted by · 6:10 am · September 12th, 2011

The warning signs were there for “360.” An umpteenth reworking of “La Ronde” didn’t seem an obvious fit for either Fernando Meirelles or Peter Morgan — a pretty dispassionate writer even on his best form, he came badly unstuck last year when he veered from his fact-based template with “Hereafter.”

Meirelles, too, is seeking to bounce back from a flop (2008’s “Blindness,” in case you’ve forgotten), and ensemble members Anthony Hopkins and Jude Law have of late been unreliable indicators of quality.

Interest in the film seemed to hover mainly in how it might serve Rachel Weisz, whose multiple lead roles this year — including an acclaimed turn in “The Whistleblower” and a buzzy one in “The Deep Blue Sea” — have many wondering if a second Oscar nod could be on the cards. It might be, but tepid reviews following the film’s premiere suggest it won’t be for “360.”

The Guardian’s Catherine Shoard strikes hardest with a one-star pan:

The pitfall of ensemble drama is that any strands that do engage are over too soon and, if mishandled, the condensed nature of each story takes its toll on potential subtlety… It’s a two-hour slog stuffed with shortcuts, populated by puppets who must indulge in behaviour that isn’t just off-kilter, it’s off the wall.

Collider’s Matt Goldberg is almost as disapproving, giving the film a D rating and concluding that it “goes through multiple lives and multiple cities.  It also goes absolutely nowhere.” He takes a brief time-out to praise the performances of Ben Foster and Anthony Hopkins, while mourning their underdeveloped characters.

The Projector’s Tim Grierson is more constructive, but is ultimately unconvinced by the film’s take on modern relationships:

Quite often, characters are either engaged in affairs, leaving a relationship because of an infidelity, or pondering a potential infidelity. The repetition of these actions doesn’t make them seem universal or empathetic. Rather, they come across as melodramatic and pedestrian, which doesn’t help when the filmmakers keep piling on the chance encounters and exploiting too-tidy scenarios that force seemingly mismatched characters into the same setting.

As for the trades, Variety’s Peter Debruge joins the chorus of sighs, stating that it’s “virtually impossible for the cast to remain plausible going through the paces of such a conceptually on-message movie.” Like Goldberg and Grierson, he singles out the work of Foster and Hopkins, but the consensus is that no one cast member is given enough to work with.

It’s not all bad news, however: at least one major critic has gone out on a substantial limb for the film. Screen Daily’s Mark Adams doesn’t just like it — he declares it “a masterpiece of structure… an intelligent and engaging filmic drama that is never less than absorbing.” As more reviews roll in, however, it seems increasingly likely that’ll remain a minority view.

As well as a disappointment for the filmmakers, these reviews pour a bucket of iced water on next month’s London Film Festival, which selected “360” as its opening film. After last year’s better-received but still diminished “Never Let Me Go,” this marks the second year running the festival has chosen to kick off with a Toronto underachiever.

[Photo: BBC Films]

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14 responses so far

  • 1 9-12-2011 at 6:21 am

    Sasha said...

    Why would you think that Rachel would have gotten a nomination for this film? its been long establish even by Rachel herself in interviews that its a very, very small role. Rachel has a better chance for “The Whistleblower” ( Which is a great performance) and “The Deep Blue Sea) which a press friend saw last night and said that it was one of her best performances to date.

  • 2 9-12-2011 at 6:25 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Why would you think that Rachel would have gotten a nomination for this film?

    I never did. Merely eliminating the possibility. And yes, I’ve been hearing (and quoting) the same good word for her work in The Deep Blue Sea for some time now.

  • 3 9-12-2011 at 7:33 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    The Whistleblower is not a good film and the performance is decent but definitely not within the top ten of the year.

  • 4 9-12-2011 at 7:49 am

    Brock Landers said...

    I saw the film at TIFF. I didn’t loathe it like some did, but it’s definitely flawed and contrived. Weisz is barely in the film though, so even if the film was well-received she wouldn’t be getting recognition.

    Ben Foster is fantastic in it though. Any time he is on screen the film is great. The real problem though, besides the fact that it’s not all that great a film, is that everything Meirelles does now will be compared to City of God and The Constant Gardener. I tried to look past that comparison and that’s probably why I enjoyed the film more than others.

    But yeah, definitely not a good choice to open LFF. They should have picked We Need to Talk About Kevin for that. What a fucking masterpiece that was.

  • 5 9-12-2011 at 7:50 am

    Reed said...

    Disagree, I thought Rachel Weisz’s performance in Whistleblower was fantastic. Worthy of a Oscar but the movie itself really did not deserve the effort Weisz brought to it and her role.

    As for Deep Blue Sea, reviews so far are for the majority very positive except for The Hollywood Reporter and I rarely take anything McCarthy says seriously.

  • 6 9-12-2011 at 8:02 am

    Tisforthommy said...

    Ouch. I had hopes this could work. Well, it still could work for me, but these reactions surely are a downer.

    Guy, why do you (and others) always refer to the french “La Ronde”, when Schnitzler’s German play was called “Reigen”. Or is this film meant to be a remake of the Ophüls film? Just curious.

  • 7 9-12-2011 at 8:17 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Tisforthommy: You make a fair point. I do think, however, that “La Ronde” is the interpretation that most defines Schnitzler’s story in the popular imagination.

  • 8 9-12-2011 at 8:58 am

    Filipe said...

    Too bad for Meirelles, who has made one of the best films of all-time to date, City of God.

  • 9 9-12-2011 at 1:39 pm

    Dana Jones said...

    Guy, sorry to be off topic- but will you or Kris have a review for ‘Take This Waltz’? I’m anxiously awaiting your thoughts seeing as the film has critics sharply divided!

  • 10 9-12-2011 at 2:15 pm

    Brock Landers said...

    “Guy, sorry to be off topic- but will you or Kris have a review for ‘Take This Waltz’? I’m anxiously awaiting your thoughts seeing as the film has critics sharply divided!”

    Saw it yesterday. I really loved it. Seth Rogen steals the show. A supporting nomination may be in store…

  • 11 9-12-2011 at 4:27 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Dana: Well, I’d need to see the film first. And neither I nor Kris are in Toronto. It’s not in the London Film Festival lineup, so I’m not sure when I’ll see it.

  • 12 9-12-2011 at 10:07 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    In any event, glad to hear some good word on Ben Foster. Hope he continues finding great roles, as I think it’s criminal he didn’t get a single mention for The Messenger, aside from a Gotham nomination.

  • 13 9-12-2011 at 10:07 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    Single other*.

  • 14 9-17-2011 at 6:43 pm

    cinephile said...

    I’m sad that you (rightly) declare “Blindness” a “flop”, because I consider it a masterpiece and one of the most undervalued, underrated films of the last decade. Like “360”, it was also dismissed by most critics, so I am looking forward to this one.
    BTW Jude Law is an indicator of quality, definitely – I had the chance to see his fantastic performance in Anna Christie on stage in London.