‘365 Days’: the Weird Polish Soft-Porn Movie Dominating Netflix Right Now

A dark sexual fantasy that ignores the real-life rules

I’ve seen the 365 Dni (“365 Days”) movie, and as Book and Film Globe’s resident Erotica Expert (a title I’ve just bestowed upon myself), I’m here to parse Netflix’s latest soft-porn offering for your titillation. I’m not sure I can fully explain the utter WTFery contained in its first 11 minutes and 30 seconds, for which this film should receive special Oscars for “Most Crazy Shit Crammed Into an Opening Sequence” and “Most Perplexing Attempts at Character Development.” But let’s begin with the basic assumption that this is a dark sexual fantasy where you can and will throw most rules of real-life sex and relationships out the window.

First up: Consent.

Although the film’s ostensible hero tells the heroine that he will never do anything without her consent, he immediately invalidates his own words by uttering them while his hand is squeezing her breast. They’ve literally just met, and she’s explicitly NOT giving her enthusiastic consent here.

Let’s backtrack for a moment to consider the setup:

Laura is a hotel sales director. Massimo is the head of an Italian mob family. In the film’s opening scene, gangsters murder Massimo’s father in front of him because he refuses to participate in a human trafficking scheme (specifically, one that involves selling “girls as young as 12” to brothels—a truly unnecessary detail). Five years later 365 days reveals that Massimo himself nearly died that day as well, because the same bullet that killed his father also momentarily stopped his heart. At that time, he had a vision of Laura and vowed to find this mystery woman—whom he presumes must be his soulmate—with the intention to make her his.

Simple, right? Kind of romantic, maybe?

Not quite.

Laura is a good-looking Polish woman in a terrible relationship with a dude who can’t even figure out how to celebrate her 29th birthday properly. Although they’ve apparently been together for several years, he still can’t remember what she likes to drink (champagne, idiot!), and after she ditches his dumb ass for the evening Massimo’s goons promptly kidnap her.

Somewhere in all of this, 365 Days mentions several times that Laura has a heart condition, which typically results in her fainting at inopportune times. Remember this detail for later, as it comes in handy during a pivotal scene.

When Laura discovers Massimo is holding her prisoner in some castle where there’s a gigantic photo of her up on the wall, she demands answers from him, and the story gets even crazier. He reveals that he’s had this “vision” of her, and proposes that she has one year to fall in love with him. She tells him this is crazy, because purposely attempting to fall in love with a mobster who has just kidnapped you, is currently holding you hostage, and who informs you he’s left a note for your boyfriend saying that you’ve broken up with him and plan to disappear from his life completely is FUCKING CRAY-CRAY.

This is when Massimo busts out the “I won’t do anything you object to” speech while he fondles Laura without her consent, and she, not being the kind of girl you want to fuck with, grabs his gun and aims it at him. For some reason she doesn’t pull the trigger, and thus begins the 365-day stopwatch.

One Hundred Percent Not a Romance

People warned me about 365 Days. A romance group I belong to had mentioned the total insanity of this film’s storyline, and its major lack of character development. I’d also heard rumors that Netflix is marketing this as “the Polish 50 Shades of Grey.” Unfortunately, my romance pals are correct: this film’s plot is laughable, its lack of character development embarrassing, and its forays into BDSM are decidedly bad, although if you like kink-shaming, mocking a dude for having a gigantic photo of himself with a tiger in the bedroom where he wants to fuck you is pretty funny.

It’s also 100% NOT A ROMANCE, so please don’t judge actual romances by the content found in this film. To its list of sins I will also add the horrible music. If a gangster is going to fuck you, is it really too much to ask that he set the scene to some decent tunes? This movie’s soundtrack was so bad it made me nostalgic for the time my high school boyfriend switched on the radio so we could make out, and immediately had to leap to change the station when it started blaring Nirvana’s “Rape Me.”

Now, I’ll forgive a lot of things for the sake of watching beautiful people fucking, and 365 Days does have an excellent sex montage once it reveals true purpose of this nonsensical setup, so it’s not all narcissistic gangsters and rape fantasies. But there’s still a lot of problematic stuff going on with the paisanos. For now, let’s focus on the scene that kicks off said fuckfest, an argument between Laura and Massimo that  ends in Laura falling/being pushed off Massimo’s yacht (I’m not totally clear on whether he pushes her or simply manages to fall, as they’re both physically violent with one another, and she has that previously emphasized heart condition), and him jumping in to rescue her from drowning.

365 Days
We’re on a boat! A very realistic sex scene from 365 Days.

I’m still not sure why this is the scene that the filmmakers believe will deliver the emotional connection that will have us rooting for Laura and Massimo to get together at last, but she realizes he saved her life (despite him telling her he’d like to kill her now that he’s done so), and this gets her right in the lady bits, so they get down and dirty for the next five minutes in various sexual positions around the yacht. Frankly, it annoys me that there was no Titanic parody “king of the world!” cum scene on the prow, but maybe that’s just my own personal kink.

In the end, there’s a distinct possibility that this movie is the first in a trilogy, as it’s based on a threesome of Polish erotic novels, for which, as of press time, there are no English translations. The filmmakers could certainly delve deeper into both of these characters’ lives, both together and apart. Will I watch a second film in the series? Probably. Will I enjoy it? Debatable.

Tale as old as time?

I enjoyed 365 Days to a limited degree, and only after I put it into the “this is a dark erotic fantasy, and it’s not necessarily my erotic fantasy” box. There’s definitely a Beauty and the Beast element to this story (tragically, minus the enormous library), which is undoubtedly what appeals to viewers who enjoy this movie. Who doesn’t love a tale as old as time, where the “beast” learns to be gentle for the woman he loves? Sure, the concept of “love” in a sex flick is absurd at best, but I think most of us can relate to the idea of love—or just mind-blowing sex—changing a person for the better, however temporarily or in whatever limited scope.

Though Massimo is little more than a walking dick, the actor who portrays him is undeniably good looking. Laura, too, is a beautiful body, even if her character amounts to little more than “hotblooded Polish woman” stereotypes. Onscreen, they’re a fantastically fiery couple, and despite the lack of consent that’s baked into this story, seeing Massimo manhandle Laura in certain scenes is still pretty damn sexy.365 Days

The fact that she teases and torments him for as long as she does, whether in a shower scene where he clearly loses control of the situation or in the hotel room where she swaggers in with the specific intent to dangle herself in front of him under the “I didn’t give my permission yet” rules of their game, suggests that in some way he really is learning to control himself, despite being the kind of dude who takes whatever he wants, whenever he wants it. There’s no denying that’s hot, so when the two of them finally get onto the same page with their feelings and their boners and their Mediterranean passion, the fireworks are well worth the price of entry.

If you’re into erotic stuff and want something similar, preferably with a more coherent storyline and 99 percent fewer nonconsenual acts, here are some additional recommendations for erotic films currently available on Netflix:

  • After (billed as “50 Shades of Grey at college” by Popsugar)
  • Amar (first love in Spain)
  • Atlantics (arranged marriage and true love in Senegal)
  • Below Her Mouth (torrid lesbian affair)
  • Duck Butter (24-hour sexperiment between women)
  • The Incredible Jessica James (unlikely connection on a blind date)
  • Middle Men (inspired by a true story, starring Luke Wilson)
  • Newness (couple meets via hookup app, invents a creative solution to boredom)
  • A Perfect Ending (repressed wife hires call girl)
  • Sex Doll (French call-girl falls for a man she meets in a club; he’s got a secret)

Laura Roberts

Laura Roberts is the founding editor of Black Heart Magazine. She currently lives in Sacramento, California with her artist husband and their literary kitties.

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