For a drama packed with so much talent in front of and behind the camera, it's almost baffling how much of a non-event Fernando Meirelles's 360 is. After a run on the film festival circuit at the tail-end of last year, it finally arrives in cinemas this week with more of a whimper than a bang.
City of God and Constant Gardner helmer Meirelles orchestrates proceedings with Oscar-winner Peter Morgan on scripting duties, but their circular narrative is a snoozy, lethargic experience that lacks the punch of the great ensemble movies from Robert Altman or Paul Thomas Anderson, whose Magnolia delivered a breathtaking look at the lives of Los Angelenos.
Here the story goes global as the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Ben Foster play characters whose lives intertwine over the course of the movie. Vienna, Paris, London and Rio are the destinations on this whistle-stop tour of love, sex and human connection.
It's a high-calibre cast, for sure, but one that's adrift in a film stacked up with clichés and without anything much new to say about relationships.
In truth, none of the cast are to blame for 360's faults - Anthony Hopkins delivers a sensitive performance as a father in search of his missing daughter, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz are a husband and wife both grappling with infidelity and Ben Foster (like Ryan Gosling's scuzzier brother) is a twitchy sex offender who finds an airport departure lounge is laced with temptation.
The most compelling plot strand, though, comes from Vladimir Vdovichenkov as Sergei. He's a Russian mobster's bodyguard who's reaching the end of his tether with his boss, but is lifted by an encounter with young Slovak Anna (Gabriela Marcinkova). Again, Meirelles and Morgan are presenting a story with broad strokes, but the segment is the only one in 360 that manages to quicken the pulse and carries any emotional weight.
The fact that the players in Vdovichenkov and co's story are all unknown faces perhaps helps to lend some truth to the events playing out. For all the skill possessed by the likes of Weisz and Hopkins there's a strong whiff of "look-at-me-I'm-acting", most notable when Hopkins is delivering a heartfelt speech to his AA group. The material is just so well-worn that even the Hollywood A-listers can't puncture through it and make an impression.
360 may look like an awards contender on the surface, but the ingredients never quite come together to form anything that's remotely memorable. All involved are capable of producing much better.