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The circle of life
7:00am Saturday 11th August 2012 in AdXtra
Our world's growing ever smaller, and a new film 360, which is released on Friday, August 10, reflects that, in the intertwining lives and relationships of its characters. The star studded cast, including Anthony Hopkins, Rachel Weisz and Jude Law, along with Oscar-nominated director Fernando Meirelles, talk about love in the 21st century.
By Susan Griffin
Never before has our world seemed so small and interrelated.
Towns and cities are filled with multinational communities, and the internet and social networking sites have lifted the restrictions of distance. We are now, more than ever, a worldwide community.
It's this realisation which forms the basis of 360, a tale about romance and sex in the 21st century, which depicts a kaleidoscope of interconnected relationships.
"You can't help noticing the degree to which boundaries have become obsolete and that modern 21st century life has become one global community," says 360's screenwriter Peter Morgan, whose previous projects include Frost/Nixon, The Queen and The Last King Of Scotland.
Conceived and written against a backdrop of the international banking crisis, the domino effect of the Arab Spring, the threat of global flu pandemics and Eurozone instability, it had never been clearer to Morgan how interconnected the world has become.
"But I didn't want to write it head on," says Morgan, 49. "I wanted to write it as a metaphor. And what better subject to channel it through than love, romance, sex and relationships?"
Inspired by the Viennese playwright Arthur Schnitzler, and his classic Der Reigen from almost a century ago, the film pans out from Vienna to cross eight borders.
The multicultural, multilingual aspect was what attracted Jude Law to the movie.
"I was excited about being in something with multiple languages, and it's very much about humans being humans and trying to do the right thing," says the 39-year-old actor.
"Yet it's in all these different languages, and I got to meet all these wonderful actors from around the world."
Law plays Michael Daly, a British businessman in a hollow marriage, who the audience first encounter when he's waiting to meet an escort.
His decision to remain faithful to his wife sparks a series of events which ripple around the globe via Paris, London, Bratislava, Rio, Denver and Phoenix, before eventually returning, 360 degrees, to where the chain began.
"Something Fernando [Meirelles, the director] said to me before I started, which really warmed me to this project, was that everyone in it is trying to do the right thing," says Law.
"Michael is a normal, regular, flawed human being. There's nothing particularly special or spectacular about him. He's just a regular Joe.
"He's working hard but at the same time kind of missing his life. He wants to do right by his family and do right by himself."
Meirelles, 56, who earned worldwide plaudits for his visceral style of film-making in the Brazilian slum-set City Of God, elaborates further.
"I think what connects the stories for me, and what I like about them, is that they're about people trying to do their best, trying to do good things and be good people, but they are not always capable of doing it," he explains.
"It means it's a very human story, as it's about impulses and desires, and the fact that sometimes something inside you can take you in a different direction.
"I thought that was fascinating and I wanted to explore it."
The film reunites Meirelles with Rachel Weisz, who in 2006 he directed to Oscar glory in The Constant Gardener.
"Fernando uses an awful lot of handheld camera, which makes me sick - I mean physically nauseous," says Weisz of her collaborator.
"It feels like being part of a fly-on-the-wall documentary, as there's a little camera somewhere and a little light; it's very low-tech."
Bu the 42-year-old actress describes the experience as liberating. "I love working with Fernando. He doesn't care if you improvise lines, you can say whatever you like. It's free, spontaneous and seemingly very unstructured."
In 360, she plays Rose, the unfaithful wife to Law's character. "I love the script and the idea that it's a true ensemble, everyone does their little story and then they pass the baton on to the next actor that comes along," says Weisz, who only spent five days on the shoot.
For Meirelles, the decision to take on this complex piece was partly due to the myriad of differences between the stories, and the unique opportunity to play with genres and settings.
"What I'm really enjoying is every time I start a different story, it feels a bit like a different film, or it's a different feeling," he says.
"When I was shooting in Paris I was telling a sad story, and in Vienna there's a lot of action so there's a different base and I enjoy that a lot."
One branch of the narrative involves an older man by the name of John who's en route to Phoenix. As he chats to a fellow passenger, we discover he's been called to a mortuary to find out whether an unidentified girl is his long-missing daughter.
"John's an ex-drunk, he's made a lot of mistakes in his life and he'll go on making them. But he's learned something about himself. He's learnt something about life," says Sir Anthony Hopkins, who plays John.
"We all get caught up in relationships and in life with things we don't expect, and we're only human. We can make a lot of mistakes. And I think that's what I like about this guy."
Indeed, it's Morgan's hope that the audience will recognise the shared experiences of humankind.
"I am always encouraging myself to take risks in my writing because I believe that all human struggles and all human emotions, it's a pallet we all share," he says.
"I am constantly shocked by how I may think that a particular predicament I have, or an emotional challenge, is one that is unique to me. It's absolutely not the case.
"We are all in the same old mess, and we all have the same struggles."
Extra time - Behind the scenes on 360 :: Filming began in spring 2011 on location in London, Paris and Vienna.
:: English, Viennese German, French, Russian, Arabic, Slovakian and Brazilian Portuguese are all spoken in the film.
:: The motif of an airplane weaves throughout the film, emphasising the transient world of 360.
:: Scenes of Berlin were actually shot at Triton Square Mall in London, while Ascot Racecourse stood in for Denver airport.
:: The film was chosen to open the 55th London Film Festival in autumn 2011.
:: 360 is released in cinemas on Friday, August 10
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