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365 Days - A Year's Worth of Trauma

A review of Netflix's pandemic movie release

By Ghada Ibrahim

A screenshot from the movie "365 Days" (courtesy of Next Film)

365 Days is a Polish film starring Anna-Marie Sieklucka, playing Laura Biel, and Michele Morrone, playing Massimo Torricelli, in a twisted narration of romance, erotica, and abuse. It is a film that enraptured audiences around the globe, shot to the #1 spot on Netflix’s Top 10 films, and irrevocably set humanity back a few decent decades! So what is it that makes this film a banger? Peeping toms, sexual assault, drug cartels, human trafficking, and a modern-day Adonis who enjoys acting out disturbing rape fantasies! One could say Christian Grey walked so Massimo Torricelli could run.

The loose plotline and badly arranged sequence of events contribute to a rather spacey and vacuous production that one could have slept through and still missed out on nothing. Anna-Marie’s character starts off as a strong and resilient woman who refuses to allow anyone to cross a line with her. However, she seems to lose any redeeming qualities rather rapidly and transforms into a damsel in distress whose personality revolves entirely around shopping. In the real world, a question like “are you lost, baby girl?” would make any girl’s stomach turn and we’re not talking about butterflies!

Massimo is a mobster who spies on Laura as she enjoys a sunny day at the beach. He soon develops a worrying obsession with her and goes as far as to follow her around, sedate her, kidnap her, and hold her against her will in what appears to be a castle. He extends his romantic gesture so far as to allot 365 days for her to fall in love with him, promising to release her on her next birthday if she fails to catch feelings! Geez, ladies now that’s a keeper! He oscillates between showering Laura with expensive gifts to inappropriately getting physical with her every five minutes of screenplay despite insisting on waiting for her to “consent.”

Stereotypical, deeply disturbing, and outright creepy, the film is directed by Barbara Bialowas who appears to have a reputation for glamourising and romanticising horrifying ideologies such as paedophilia, sexual harassment, and toxic masculinity. The film contains several themes that do not fit into the larger plot (or the lack of one). Unsurprisingly, Laura ends up falling in love with Massimo, announcing her undying love to her kidnapper, assaulter, and abuser with the line: “I don’t need 365 days because I love you.” What's there to love? Being consistently threatened with assault? Being taken advantage of repeatedly? Guess romance isn't dead after all!

The problematic display of power intertwined with wealth is far too messed up to let slide. Imagine the same scenario with our 'R-U-Lost-Baby-Gorl' mobster hailing from origins that don't drip in gold and private jets! Yikes, the press would have a field day. Another equally concerning aspect is the use of exoticised ethnicities for the main characters. Would Massimo’s actions still be overlooked as affectionately if he originated from the Middle East or South Asia? I’m guessing a certain t-word would have been making headlines. What might appear as a highly coveted display of diversity is actually the fetishisation of the stereotypically “exotic” Italian ethnicity.

If you managed to stomach the unnecessary and revolting fellatio scenes and watched in horror as Laura goes from being a powerhouse of a woman to a maiden in need of saving to an infatuated lover with severe Stockholm’s Syndrome in just under an hour’s time, hang in there for the worst is yet to come. Are those wedding bells I hear? Yep!

She has agreed to marry her captor! It is truly a sad day for women. As if these hoops we were jumping through every few minutes were not enough, the film throws you another curveball by killing off Laura. Honestly, fan fiction penned by prepubescent teenagers over boy bands has more of a plotline than this atrocity.

To think there was a Netflix-level budget allotted to shoot this remarkable display of misogyny is baffling. On one hand, we have Massimo vehemently expressing his distaste for child trafficking and on the other we have him sedating, kidnapping, and sexually assaulting Laura. Massimo honey, pick a struggle! And must we really experience the horror of watching Massimo’s big-O face up close and in HD only a few minutes into the film?

If you have watched this film (and here I use the word “film” very loosely) then I offer you my sincerest condolences. There is no coming back from the second-hand embarrassment over Laura’s cringe-worthy character and Massimo’s traumatising behaviour. If you haven’t watched it yet, spend two hours staring at a wall instead and you will experience greater brain activity minus the lifelong scarring!