Indie Roundup: Director Fernando Meirelles talks about ’360′
Photo by Magnolia Pictures
Director Fernando Meirelles first garnered international attention in 2002 for his propulsive crime drama "City of God." That movie, which nabbed him an Oscar nomination for best director, sizzled with the violence and passion of the favela, and it featured, hands down, the best performance by a chicken in the history of cinema. For his subsequent movie, he swapped Rio for the slums of Nairobi, detailing a different kind of violence in "The Constant Gardener." The movie earned Rachel Weisz an Oscar for her role as a woman who railed against the evil activities of an international corporation.
His latest movie "360," written by "The Queen" scriptwriter Peter Morgan, is less overtly political but more expansive. Based loosely on Arthur Schnitzler's "La Ronde," it is a globe-trotting daisy-chain of tales about love, sex, and obligation. The movie opens with a Slovakian prostitute disrobing for a camera in Vienna, and it ends with another working girl doing the same thing for the same cameraman. In between, we see Jude Law as an unhappily married businessman who almost spends the night with the aforementioned Eastern European escort; his wife in London (Rachel Weisz) breaks up with her hunky Brazilian lover after hearing an emotional voicemail from her husband. When the lover's heartbroken girlfriend flees London for Brazil, she inadvertently changes the lives of two men. One, John (Anthony Hopkins), is a recovering alcoholic searching for his estranged daughter, and the other is a convicted sex offender (Ben Foster), who was recently released from prison. Hearing Hopkins' character give a speech at an AA meeting in Phoenix inspires a French-Russian dental hygienist to return to Paris and divorce her thuggish husband (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) and confess her feelings for her Muslim dentist boss (Jamel Debbouze). You get the picture. It's a movie about the struggle of trying to do the right thing over our baser impulses and about the global repercussions of all of our actions.
I had a chance to talk by phone with Meirelles not long ago. We talked about Freud, working with actors, and cajoling Rachel Weisz.
JC: What drew you to this film? Were you involved with this during the scriptwriting process or had Peter Morgan already finished the script when you were drawn to it?
FM: Peter just sent me the script and I joined. I wanted to work with Peter Morgan, who I admire a lot. There's also something else that I liked about the script. All of the characters seem to be good people trying to do their best. There is no antagonist in the film, at least among the main characters. But all the characters are fighting with the demons, their desires.
It reminded me of reading Freud's "Civilization and its Discontents" when I was in school. I was always very intrigued with his view of civilization. That you have to repress your impulses, your desires in society. This conflict between our rational side and our primitive side. So, that's what I wanted to explore.
JC: For a movie that is supposedly based on "La Ronde," there is actually very little sex in the film.