Warning: the trailer below depicts emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
The Polish film 365 Days just made it to Netflix, and I have no idea why, but the streaming platform recommended it to me. Maybe because I've been watching a lot of foreign-language TV and movies lately or maybe my Netflix doesn't know me at all, but I gave the movie a chance, and you know what, I'm really not happy that I did that.
The movie, which is largely in Polish and Italian, along with English, is about a young woman named Laura who is in a terrible relationship, and when she's on her birthday trip in Sicily, she's kidnapped by a handsome stranger named Massimo who is obsessed with her and claims she has 365 days to fall in love with him.
There are so many things that are very, very wrong about this movie, but from the get-to, this premise is all bad. The 365 days, which really amount to Stockholm syndrome (feeling affection for someone who has kidnapped you), are the first layer of the abusive-relationship scenario. When he kidnaps her from her holiday, he tells her he did it on the grounds that he was rescuing her from her cheating boyfriend (whom Massimo actually set up) and that she should be grateful. At the start, Laura fights Massimo to get away and tells him she'd never love him, but oh how quickly she gives in, which is just so infuriating to watch.
No attractive, rich, or powerful person is worth your safety or your self-worth, and hopefully at some point, filmmakers will also realise that.
Massimo, who is a very attractive, rich, and powerful Italian man, manhandles Laura when he doesn't like how she behaves, touches her without her consent — often in front of other people — and repeatedly talks down to her. He scolds her for dressing provocatively and calls her a wh*re and constantly infantilizes her by calling her "little girl." Yet somehow, Laura quickly falls in love with him.
Massimo also takes Laura away from her home, her friends, and her family. And when she agrees to marry him (because YES, that happens about five minutes into their Stockholm syndrome), he tells her that her parents aren't welcome at the wedding because he doesn't want them to know about his life. Every little thing she does makes him mad, and he's constantly yanking her around and telling her off. Please, pray tell, what is appealing about this relationship?
I don't care how attractive a person is, or how rich a person is, or how powerful a person is. There's nothing remotely romantic or sexy about emotionally and physically abusing someone — after kidnapping them! — and there's no excuse for it. It's not a storyline that needs to be romanticized in TV and movies, yet it continues to happen. After such a big uproar in Hollywood with the #MeToo movement, I fail to understand why disgusting relationships based on abuse and where there's no consent are being put in movies and watered down to the point of people thinking they're OK. Using attractive actors in the roles is just a gimmick to draw in viewers who maybe, sort of, kinda think being kidnapped by an attractive man is appealing, but that shouldn't be the case.
This movie is a work of fiction, but it's a premise that should be challenged and shouldn't continue to be done. This movie is also being compared to Fifty Shades of Grey, because both of these films are sexually explicit and feature a dominant, abusive man. The primary difference between the two is that at least Ana in Fifty Shades of Grey isn't kidnapped by Christian, and though he definitely has his issues, their relationship is based on consent. Though Laura never explicitly tells Massimo "no" when he touches her, the fact that she is kidnapped should be enough of a clue that the answer is no.
The more TV shows and movies run with abusive relationships, the more it normalizes them, and the more people think it's OK not just to abuse others but to stay in abusive relationships. Not only is consent important in every single relationship, but valuing yourself is, too. No attractive, rich, or powerful person is worth your safety or your self-worth, and hopefully at some point, filmmakers will also realise that.