Like the movie in question, let’s not waste any time and just get straight to the business. 365 Days (365 Dni) has been on Netflix since June 7, and in that short time has already rocketed into Netflix’s Top 10 in multiple countries, including Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Nigeria, and Brazil. As of this writing, it’s currently the fourth-most-popular programming on Netflix in the US, which is pretty impressive for a Polish movie that has had limited — if any — North American promotion and has earned a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
So how did some Fifty Shades of Grey knockoff, filmed in Italy, spoken largely in English for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and originally released in Poland last February, become so globally popular in the middle of a pandemic when everyone has ample time to watch whatever is growing in the weird, dark, damp corners of their streaming services?
The reason is simple: This movie fucks. Big time. It fucks like no other commercially released movie I have ever seen fucks. The movie makes no sense. It’s effectively a rape fantasy that clearly and demonstrably hates its woman protagonist, but good god, it fucks.
While the comparisons to Fifty Shades make sense, they’re not entirely accurate. Yes, both films are directed by women (though 365 Days is codirected by a man), are based on book trilogies, and are focused on women’s taboo fantasies, but in Fifty Shades, we have two actors trying to find each other very érotique in a deeply unconvincing way. The sex is fun but pretty tame, the chemistry is nonexistent, the bondage is boring, the politics are bad.
It’s effectively a rape fantasy that clearly and demonstrably hates its woman protagonist, but good god, it fucks.
In 365 Days, there’s no use pretending there’s an actual movie going on around two people who can’t keep their hands off each other boneyarding to death. It’s basically a movie for people too nervous to just take the plunge and type “pornhub” into a browser. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!!!) There’s so much graphic and carnal sex happening in this movie that if you accidentally watched it with your parents, you would have to change your name, move to an undisclosed location, and wait for death because there would be no recovering.
The plot is idiotic but for the sake of maintaining the ruse, we might as well discuss it. Massimo (Michele Morrone) is a large man with a big jaw who is the son of a Sicilian gangster. Moments before his father is killed during a meeting with black market traders, he sees a beautiful woman on the beach and then spends years searching for her as he takes over the family business. When he finally finds Laura (Anna-Maria Sieklucka), the hot Polish woman from the beach, while she’s vacationing in Sicily, he kidnaps her and gives her a year to fall in love with him. If she doesn’t, she’s free to return to her mediocre life in Poland with her even more mediocre boyfriend. The entire middle of the movie is him holding her wrists and saying some variation of “I won’t force you but I also don’t like to be teased” and shoving her around some giant Italian fortress he lives in while she tries to run away. There’s also a Pretty Woman–like sequence where he and his goons take her shopping and recommend she not wear short dresses to nightclubs, which she of course does and then “pays” for it.
There’s so much graphic and carnal sex happening in this movie that if you accidentally watched it with your parents, you would have to change your name, move to an undisclosed location, and wait for death because there would be no recovering.
Laura falls in love with him after two months (sure, Jan), gets pregnant while planning the wedding, and then is maybe killed by a rival mafia family before she can tell him the great news. In the film’s two-hour runtime, Laura appears to only have one measly orgasm. (My editor — who assigned this story, by the way, please take your issues up with her — and I are in disagreement about how many orgasms she actually has. It’s either one or 20, but perhaps we are telling on ourselves. Never mind. Never mind!!)
That’s it. That’s the whole movie.
Spliced between the four makeover scenes — including one where two gay men in hideous suits play dress-up with her while she is still a kidnapping victim by Massimo, the murderous, creepy mobster who happens to believe in fate — are at least 30 minutes of raw-dog fucking. You don’t see any penetration, but I’m not sure it actually matters since the movie is plenty graphic without seeing that terrible porn angle of balls slapping against some poor woman’s butt. Within the first 15 minutes alone, Laura is graphically masturbating in her bed after being rejected by her dolt of a boyfriend, and Massimo is getting a violent blowjob from a flight attendant on his private jet. Did I ever think I would live to see the day where “[slurping]” was a frequently used subtitle on a Netflix movie, available to anyone to watch in broad daylight? I did not!!!
In 365, boobs are plentiful, as are blowjobs, and though you don’t get porn close-ups, you can see at least half of something shaft-like in several women’s mouths. And though this movie is an adaptation of a book by Polish author Blanka Lipińska and was brought to the screen by a few more women, it feels like an erotic fantasy that only a man could concoct. Why else would Massimo, angry that Laura still won’t have sex with him even after he tied her up with a spreader bar, which widens her legs the more she resists, brings a sex worker into the room to get a very slurpy blowjob, which is somehow supposed to show Laura what kind of incredible sex they could be having. You too could be testing the tensile strength of your gag reflex if only you let me skull-fuck your ponytail. I do not know who this scene is specifically for, but if I had to guess, it would be men.
Did I ever think I would live to see the day where “[slurping]” was a frequently used subtitle on a Netflix movie, available to anyone to watch in broad daylight?
I am desperate — desperate — to know which genius at Netflix decided it was a good idea to snap up a movie that’s clearly intended to be a modern take on Beauty and the Beast, but is actually just a vehicle for a hot, stubbled Italian man to let a long string of saliva drip from his lips onto a woman actor’s mons pubis. I’m not objecting on any moral grounds when it comes to the sex, but I suppose I do have some issues with the idea that in just two months, this woman would fall in love with a guy who kidnaps and impregnates her, takes her away from her friends and her family, breaks her up with her shitty BUT NON-KIDNAPPING boyfriend, and then pounds her out on the top of a boat that honestly seems pretty small for someone who is apparently the head of a big crime family.
Most of Laura’s scenes are relegated to her just waking up: from being drugged, from falling off a boat, or to find that her kidnapper has decided to sleep in the bed next to her. That, combined with the fact that the movie does not even allow her to survive at the end makes it even more clear you’re supposed to feel empathy for the kidnapper, who has been so obsessed with her that he had a portrait of her painted from memory. The movie wants to present Laura as Massimo’s equal — she teases him sexually, mocks him, and refuses to give in, at least initially. That’s part of the fantasy: that she’s just as tough and capable as him. Except, you know, he kidnapped her.
So, in that way, I suppose it’s easy to explain how a movie this bad has crawled up the Netflix charts in more countries than I can name. In interviews, the cinematographer has spoken about making sure to not cross “the border of pornography,” but that’s absurd. What’s wrong with pornography? Just name the thing you’re making. If you post well-lit, thematically “interesting” softcore porn with two conventionally attractive leads with nice butts, enough sex scenes to get someone through a few solo sessions while we waste away in quarantine, on a streaming service that’s easily accessed around the world, it will indeed be a success. If I were 15, stuck at home, and too squeamish to just look at porn on my phone like a normal pervert, I too would probably run through this movie so many times my Netflix account would be suspended. These filmmakers aren’t reinventing the wheel here, they’re just ejaculating on it.
Anyway. I’m going to go watch it again. I, ah, have to do...research on a few choice scenes. It’s very important to be thorough so please don’t bother me for at least 10 to 20 minutes. Yes, I know I already wrote the piece, but I have some fact-checking to do. I’m a journalist. ●