NC-17 | “365 Days” 2020 Movie Review

Netflix’s newest Polish erotic drama “365 Days” is probably the closest thing we have to for June’s “Tiger King,” as it essentially took over the internet a few weeks after its release, and it’s not because it has a gay throuple, copious amounts of meth, country music and tigers. 

“365” is one of, if not the most graphic films on the streaming platform, because of its sex scenes. If this film came out in theaters, it would firmly get an NC-17. It shows everything except its lead’s genitals. And yet it’s somehow more graphic than films on the platform that show full nudity. How cinematographer Mateusz Cierlica got away with the scenes that he did is perhaps the most interesting thing about the film, as otherwise, it’s basically every generic paperback romance novel you can find at your local bookstore brought to the small screen, complete with a mysterious but dangerous lover and an average girl whom slowly gets swept off her feet by him.

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It’s also very much Stockholm Syndrome: The Movie, and an off brand version of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” There’s also the uncomfortable fact that one of the film’s main characters is arguably a victim of human trafficking (there’s even a Change.org petition urging Netflix to take this film down). Most of this film’s popularity steps from its notoriety. It’s a film that has taken over Netflix because of its controversy and gratuitousness, not because of its craftsmanship.

It follows a young, handsome member of the Sicilian mafia named Massimo Torricelli (Michele Morrone), who falls in love with a woman he sees on a beach in the distance, right as his father is murdered. Five years later, Massimo becomes a Don and runs into that very same woman in the airport, and kidnaps her. That woman is a bored 29-year-old Polish business executive named Laura Biel (Anna-Maria Sieklucka), who is unsatisfied with the relationship with her boyfriend, Martin (Mateusz Łasowski).

Massimo forces Laura to stay with him for 365 days, in which he hopes for her to fall in love with him. Once the 365 days are up, she’s free to go. Massimo threatens to harm her family if she were to leave, and makes himself seem like the good guy by showing her pictures of Martin’s infidelity, and he even arranges for their breakup on Laura’s behalf. The movie portrays Massimo as this strong, sexy and powerful man who has a sensitive side, but he’s also extremely manipulative and toxic. His wealth and the film’s Italian backdrop provide a means for viewers to live out an exotic romantic fantasy through the perspective of Laura, but unfortunately, the film doesn’t rise above the cliches of disposable romance novels that forms the film’s bedrock.

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“365” is film you can’t take seriously 100 percent of the time. It is what it is, which is a bottom-shelf erotic romance novel with incredibly graphic sex scenes, with some paper-thin mafia elements. If you’re a fan of Martin Scorcese gangster films, you’ll find every element of 365’s mafia plotline laughably terrible. Massimo would not last ten minutes as a real gangster. The mafia elements of the film serve as window dressing to make Massimo seem mysteries and strong, and for the film to throw viewers a curveball when it gets boring.

I’m not going to get into spoiling the plot, because it’s paper-thin and not interesting to talk about at all. It feels like the directors copy and pasted a sample romantic gangster film script and slapped the 365 name on it, though it’s based on a popular book of the same name (“365 Dni”).

Take away 365’s shock value and you’re left with some gorgeous shots of locations that are probably fantastic places to vacation, passable action scenes, and a predictable story that is both morally dubious and executed so blandly that it will put you to sleep.

365 Days” gets a 3/10

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