365 Days/365 DNI review: Is this Polish movie more problematic than 50 Shades of Grey?

365 Days/365 DNI review: Is this Polish movie more problematic than 50 Shades of Grey?

That's hot...?

Text: Emily Heng

In case my extensive coverage of reality TV offerings didn't tip you off just yet, I'm someone with a particularly high tolerance for most things deemed tasteless and tawdry. I quote Too Hot to Handle on a semi-regular basis; have shared countless of meme-worthy moments from The Real Housewives of New York; and am, in fact, still Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Bearing this in mind, I didn't think 365 DNI would be my undoing. Heck, I've watched 50 Shades of Grey and emerged relatively unscathed. And yet, this Polish erotic drama left me with a bad taste in my mouth that I just can't shake.

But first, some context: 365 DNI — or 365 Days, when translated to English — is based upon a novel by Blanka Lipinska. The film revolves around Sicilian mafia crime boss, Massimo Torricelli, and high-powered hospitality executive, Laura Biel. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, and... opts to woo her by kidnapping her for a full year until she feels the same way. And by that, I mean he literally clocks her over the head while she's on holiday with her boorish boyfriend, sedates her, and imprisons her in his sex den/castle.

In an alternate universe, this would probably be the set-up for a horror slasher flick featuring one plucky heroine and a chainsaw-wielding villain. Reality, on the other hand, proves a lot more grim. You see, 365 DNI is marketed as a love story; a tale that highlights how even the most damaged, violent of monsters can be loved. Never mind that Laura lacks agency throughout the whole arrangement, and is essentially thrown around like "a bag of potatoes." (A direct line from the film, I might add). Never mind that she is slapped, pushed, and groped repeatedly. Never mind that she's told to "stop fighting" and to accept what "fate has thrown her."

365 Days/365 DNI review: Is this Polish movie more problematic than 50 Shades of Grey? (фото 1)

Reading this in its full, I'm floored as to how tone-deaf 365 DNI is — particularly in a time where the #MeToo movement is in full swing. 2020 alone has seen Harvey Weinstein charged for two counts of rape; Danny Masterson arrested; and Louis C.K. owning up to sexual misconduct. The positive outcome of survivors speaking up is directly at odds with everything 365 DNI stands for; from the romanticisation of toxic relationships to overt misogyny.

Yes, because what's just as bad as the treatment of Laura is how she readily accepts — and yearns — for Massimo around the halfway mark of the movie. Sure, there is an escape attempt (or two) and some form of retaliation demonstrated through her flagrant use of his credit card, but that's about as far as her rebellion goes. We are soon served scene after scene of makeover montages, romantic candlelit dinners, and yacht sex.

365 Days/365 DNI review: Is this Polish movie more problematic than 50 Shades of Grey? (фото 2)

Questionable content aside, what I find more worrying is that the movie has retained trending status since its release this June. Perhaps it has to do with how touch-starved we all were during the quarantine period, or maybe it's just banal curiousity driving us to hit play. There's also the possibility that we're all just indulging in escapism, because who hasn't fantasised about being whisked away by a hot man when you're stuck in a dead-end relationship? I get that — but it doesn't change the fact that it sets a dangerous precedent as to how relationships should look like in the modern age. See: the young, impressionable teens that have already taken to TikTok to express their hopes of being kidnapped by Massimo.

You might ask, then, if you made it to this point of my tirade: is there anything redeemable about this movie? It's a hard no from me. Not even the sex scenes — drawn-out, titillating close-ups of Massimo's chiseled abs and Laura's perky ass — are worth the (close-to) two hours of problematical behaviour, cheesy dialogue, and down-right ridiculous plot. In fact, Laura's best friend, Olga, sums up exactly how I feel about the movie in single apt sentence: "F*ck all the Massimos, Martins, andl the other mozzarellas." Word.