365 Days (2020)
Directed by: Barbara Bialowas and Tomasz Mandes
Premise: Laura (Anna Maria Sieklucka) is kidnapped by a gangster (Michele Morrone). He claims to be in love with her and intends to keep Laura captive for a year during which time he will make this woman fall in love with him.
What Works: 365 Days is intended to ride the coattails of the Fifty Shades of Grey series and 365 Days succeeds where the Fifty Shades films failed in one important respect: the sex. 365 Days is an erotic drama and it hearkens back to movies of the 1970s and 80s like Emmanuelle and 9½ Weeks but it is executed for an audience that’s familiar with contemporary pornography. As Laura and Massimo, actors Anna Maria Sieklucka and Michele Morrone possess sexual charisma and the movie’s visual style has a visceral and tactile look that makes for satisfying erotica.
What Doesn’t: The problem with 365 Days is everything around the sex scenes. Following the success of Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, this is another film tapping the same paradigm in which the love of a good woman civilizes an abusive and predatory man. 365 Days takes this formula to a new level. Rather than a vampire or a CEO or a fictionalized popstar, the male love interest of 365 Days is a drug dealer. Massimo is in no uncertain terms a psychopath but he’s framed as a “good” psychopath because he refuses to get into the human trafficking business. But he traffics the woman he claims to love and the filmmakers of 365 Days either don’t notice his hypocrisy or hope that we won’t recognize it. The filmmakers eroticize this awful man while working through a checklist of abusive behavior. Massimo physically and verbally threatens Laura, controls every aspect of her life including clothes and food, becomes violently jealous, and isolates this woman from her family and friends. In a typical Beauty and the Beast scenario, the gangster would realize the error of his ways and become a better man. But he doesn’t change at all. Instead, it is the woman who changes. The opening of 365 Days establishes Laura as a professional with her own life and career but upon being kidnapped she gives all of that up with very little persuasion. This doesn’t make sense and Massimo does nothing to seduce her. The implication is Laura is won over by Massimo’s lavish lifestyle and she gives herself over to him halfway through the movie. That removes any dramatic tension and the second half of 365 Days becomes a series of steamy but repetitive sex scenes that emphasize Massimo’s wealth as much as they do his sexual prowess. The film finally throws a dramatic twist onto the last ten minutes and it is a lazy and idiotic attempt at tragedy.
DVD extras: Currently available on Netflix.
Bottom Line: 365 Days’ sexual escapades and dramatic pretensions fail to disguise the ugliness at its core. This attempt to romanticize abuse goes far beyond the Fifty Shades trilogy or After or Twilight. 365 Days has some erotic sequences but it is a stupid and misogynistic story.
Episode: #839 (February 14, 2021)