In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new 50 Shades Polish knock-off called 365 Days that, despite being widely panned by critics, has become a Netflix sensation due to its “mind-blowing bondage” and other racy sex scenes. The movie tells the story of Massimo, an Italian mob boss, who kidnaps Laura, a Polish woman he’s obsessed with, and gives her 365 days to fall in love with him. (What could possibly go wrong?!) While some have defended the movie as pure fantasy, it presents a warped view of consent and BDSM that may be confusing to its many Gen Z fans.
Although there are undoubtedly 365 things wrong with 365 Days, we’ll spare you the minutiae and focus on 5 big ones. We’ve spoiled it so you won’t have to suffer through it. You’re welcome.
1. Consent? Who Needs It!
While Laura is on vacation in Sicily, Massimo’s henchman drugs and abducts her, because, as everyone knows, this is an immediate panty dropper. Laura awakens in Massimo’s Italian fortress, frantic. As she looks for a way to escape, she encounters Massimo, who creepily explains that ever since he saw her on a beach long ago, he’s made it his mission in life to find her and have her. Laura protests, pointing out that she’s not an object. Massimo counters with a masterful grasp of free will, explaining that this is why he’s giving her a chance to fall in love with him. If she doesn’t develop Stockholm syndrome within a year, he’ll let her go.
Laura tries to flee again, but Massimo shoves her into a chair. As he gropes her breast, he says, “I won’t do anything without your permission. I’ll wait until you want me, you desire me, and come to me yourself. I won’t tie you up, but don’t provoke me. I can’t be gentle.” Hmm.
The following day, they fly to Rome on Massimo’s private jet. While Laura is bound to her seat against her will, Massimo pinches her nipple and shoves his hand down her pants. Clearly, this movie should’ve been called 365 Consent Violations.
2. So Sexist It Makes James Bond Look Like Susan B. Anthony
In the opening scene, when Massimo first spots Laura, his father tells him that “beautiful women are heaven for the eyes and hell for the soul.” The movie then does everything in its power to prove his statement true. While Laura is trying on lingerie during one of many shopping trips, Massimo barges into the dressing room. She tells him to leave, prompting him to grab her by the throat and throw her against a wall to show her who’s in charge. But hey, this is nothing a few dozen new outfits can’t smooth over!
Countless shopping and dress-up scenes are meant to simultaneously make up for Massimo’s brutish behavior and remind us that women must look their best all the time, even when being held captive. But Laura must take care not to look too good, because we all know what that leads to. When she wears a slinky silver dress to a club and dares to dance, some sleazy dude accosts her. Naturally, Massimo blames Laura, telling her that it wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t dressed like a whore and put on a show.
3. Vanilla: The New BDSM
Let’s pretend for a moment that the “relationship” in 365 Days isn’t appalling and just focus on the sex. This movie is being touted as a major kinkfest, but aside from one scene when Massimo chains Laura to a bed while making her watch another woman blow him, there is nothing kinky about it.
Unlike 50 Shades, 365 Days doesn’t even try to introduce BDSM concepts or vocabulary. Yet the entire movie is basically an extended abduction/ravishment CNC scene—or could have been had it addressed consent appropriately. Instead, we’re left with what feels like a vanilla person’s distorted view of a D/s dynamic where the “dom” constantly loses his temper to gain control, and the “sub” attempts to provoke his rage by being disobedient.
The fact that some media outlets are emphasizing the alleged BDSM in this movie goes to show how little realistic BDSM content is available.
4. An Olive Garden of Cultural Expression
Massimo is a walking stereotype of a hot-headed Italian mobster who expresses nearly every emotion through casual acts of violence. His ego knows no bounds; he even has a life-sized portrait of himself posing with a lion. But, according to the movie, this is exactly the “bad boy” trope that women want. After Laura develops feelings for him, she describes him to her friend as “a strong alpha male who always knows what he wants,” noting that he fulfills all her sexual desires.
For his part, Massimo tells Laura that he wants to learn how to be gentle—for her. But he never really succeeds. When he’s not lashing out in a possessive rage, he’s controlling her every move or warning her not to provoke him. Case in point: he shoots the guy who assaults Laura at the club right before yelling at her for being a whore. By god, the only person who gets to assault his woman is him!
5. “Watch Me Burn” (This Soundtrack)
The musical interludes in the movie are so frequent and so loud that it’s necessary to constantly adjust the volume to avoid frightening your eardrums and your neighbors. “Watch Me Burn” is one of several songs on the soundtrack by Michele Morrone, who plays Massimo. Another is “Hard For Me,” which, surprisingly, is not about Massimo getting a hard-on for himself. Morrone’s album, Dark Room, (yes, there’s a whole album) has garnered a number of accolades on Amazon. Ronald B. raves, “listened to my favourite song on repeat while consuming four glasses of whiskey.”
We think Ronald has the right idea. If you drink every time you spot sexism, fake BDSM, and Italian stereotypes in 365 Days, you’re in for a pretty fun night.
I tried to watch the movie, but didn’t get too far along, because I found it unpalatable. However I enjoyed your review and sense of humor so much, it really made me laugh. So there is at least one good thing this movie achieved.
Thank you for your review of this film. When I viewed this text it was with your perspective in mind, that it was a poor representation of the BDSM lifestyle. If the original author and by extension the director we’re attempting to present a typical D/s dynamic, then I would agree with you entirely. They have broken every rule in the book and grossly misrepresented what the lifestyle is actually all about.
However as the film unfolded I began to view it through the same lens that I read erotic fiction with. This is someones attempt to portray a fantasy. In this case I placed a filter of consentual none-consent over this. When viewed through this lens then I felt it was an detailed and well-constructed narrative that ticks the CNC boxes elaborately. I often noticed the look in the female protagonists eyes that did not portray the terror that a real abductee would experience in a situation like this. But more of a determined woman playing a pre determined part and going along with an agreed narrative.
As I am sure you would agree, from the gaze of someone in the lifestyle, we don’t view all BDSM fiction as fact. We all adopt the philosophy of ’your kink is not my kink, but your kink is ok’
Unfortunately, this was released into a vanilla world that will overlay traditional male/female relationship rules. Thus, it was always going to be doomed as a film that spits in the face of things like ‘me too’ or justifies white male misogynisism.
While CNC is not my personal jam. I still found it a titillating experience to step into someone else’s fantasy for a moment in time. Like I do when I allow myself to disappear down various rabbit holes of exploration that cross my already established boundaries as a submissive.
Thank you for bringing this film to my attention. I only wish that more film makers we’re bold enough to cross boundaries like this. Alas, production costs and commercial viability are of higher consideration than that of writers of internet based erotic fiction.
I think it’s easy to see the film through a CNC lens because we have the framework to do that. But it gets tiresome to see continual portrayals of BDSM that don’t even bother to introduce that framework (or botch it when they do). It would be nice to get to a point where consent and negotiation are woven into the story in a sexy way and not ignored.