I don’t often do movie reviews, but every once in a while, there comes a movie just so pernicious I can’t help myself. 365 Days is one such movie. It is not only a bad movie, it exists in a sphere of bad movies where you wonder exactly what hellish Rube Goldberg machine went wrong in order for this film to exist. I can only imagine 15 people who do quality testing at Netflix were off sick, and 17 others were too busy deciding which comedy specials from dying stars to put forward this week.

I imagine, further, that script supervisors were dead in a ditch, and that cameramen didn’t bother to show up and so were replaced with best boys and the best boys replaced with wardrobe and the wardrobe replaced by a person who got lost near the backlot and the producer had topped themselves and so the entire production was overseen by a sleep-deprived eight-year-old duct-taped to a skateboard.

I say all of this with no malice. I can imagine every member involved trying their absolute hardest to make this film and nobody, absolutely nobody, stopped them. They did their best, and what you see on screen is absolutely dreadful, but presented with a certain kind of affectation. Here. This is what we made and you will take it. We will do no more. It is done.

And I certainly wish the best for the entire production team. Not so much that they find work again, but enough that they survive and continue to propagate the human species.

I wish I could say the same for the writers.

The premise of 365 Days is that an eccentric billionaire who is also a murderer, Massimo, abducts a woman, Laura (Polish: LOUR-RA; my own crumbling language: LAW-RA), who he has a giant painting of and then stops her from leaving and says she has a year to fall in love with him. (Do you get it? 365 Days? It’s romantic because it’s a number, although it’s made evident that he really doesn’t give a fuck and won’t let her go at all.) That’s it, that’s your premise. There’s no twist that humanises this godawful story, no explanation that he had a vision she’d save him and abducted her out of fear, or that she had a memory lapse and they’ve been married for years like in The Notebook or anything that would make this piece of fucking shit saveable.

The dialogue. The dialogue. The dialogue of the film. If I’m honest, the dialogue may have set the women’s rights movement back 300 years. And whilst you might be a little okay with that if you’re the kind of freak or goober who has spent his life dealing with rejections and stewed into one of the men you see on Internet forums writing a “satire” novel or screenplay about female subjugation or watch late night 80’s comedians and laugh a little too hard at the jokes, most people aren’t too irritated at general liberal progression. (Perhaps no more that a cow blinking flies, begrudgingly accepting a symbiotic relationship, or a man with a fancy ship who prides themselves as one of the few sailors to navigate a boat at sea hearing about rising sea levels for the first time.)

I began to joke when I’d hear a line, only for the joke to immediately become the next line of serious dialogue. My mind is now filled with “Are you lost, baby girl?” repeated no less than five times throughout the film in some sort of benign threat. It is indeed the “show bobs and vagene” of 2020.

And through my watching of this, I’m reminded of something I’ll hear peddled, perhaps by either people seriously unwell, the writers of this movie, or both, and they will trot it out as soon as the movie gets hit with criticism of sexism: the classic “this is a story of female empowerment.”

Even when you bring up Laura’s plot-seasoning of a “heart condition” that allows us to have her swoon every ten minutes so we don’t have to deal with her vacuousness, her entire character is just frowning occasionally whilst Massimo continues to molest her repeatedly despite the line at the beginning “I won’t do anything you don’t consent to,” which is never referenced again. It’s not empowering when you have absolutely no power dynamic or recourse.

There are gratuitous “yacht-shots,” “mansion shots,” and the film is of the 50 Shades school of “the king has noticed you. Any transgression he does is your fault, any feelings you have are your fault, and you have absolutely no agency other than being a cockglove for the man with lots of money.” And, like hypothetically eating 1000 ml of chocolate frosting and then puking in the sink, my mind oscillates between two modes:

  1. Why am I engaging in this destructive behaviour by even ironically consuming this?
  2. I feel sick.

My favourite scene (that I never wish to see again) is where Massimo ties Laura to a bed and forces her to watch him getting sucked off by another woman and she becomes automatically aroused despite her obvious disgust.

A peculiar fetish, to force a woman to become sexually stimulated against her own will. It’s not quite rape, but if you were to shoot a bunch of extra scenes between these two characters that didn’t involve rape, you’d still get massively rapey vibes, like some sort of cinematographic water memory where everything is now seen through rape-tinted goggles.

And there is a point halfway through the film where my feelings for both characters dissipate due to neither of them behaving like humans. Fine, fuck her. Fine, get fucked. Neither of you are real. You’re a symptom of something that’s got horribly wrong with society, and if traditionalism wasn’t so repugnantly filled with losers and Nazis, then I would probably take to it like a fascist to a manor filled with art from the late Renaissance.

I can distinctly remember when I lost the thread of the film entirely, and it’s when the victim/heroine is giggling with her friend about Massimo, who is “muscley but not-too muscley, over six feet, has a large cock, and owns four homes,” and my brain went into Vietnam-mode remembering the time I’d talked to hapless men who had been brainwashed by this exact phrase into believing they’d never find a partner. Their self-confidence had been ruined, I’d say even removed entirely, and the idea that they weren’t a runway model but nobody is and there’ll be someone attracted to you because women are attracted to all sorts was foreign and strange to them.

Who is this movie even for?

Who wanted this or masturbates to this? Why?

Are there, as many reviewers have said, women working 50-hour shifts in A&E or dead-end accounting jobs who want a billionaire to make all of their financial worries and other stresses disappear? Is it then no more than just a depressing dead-eyed exchange focused on the way of a cruel and uncaring world? A reverse Can’t Buy Me Love? A pussy pyramid scheme? This is like watching Spider-Man and the finale is Andrew Garfield watching in tears as Mary Jane sucks off the guy with the cigar in his mouth who’s still thumping the desk and demanding pictures. It just feels as if you’ve been robbed somehow.

I am not for one second saying that both female writers, Blanka Lipinska and Barbara Białowąs, hate themselves. And I am not for one second saying that the male writers, Tomasz Mandes and Tomasz Klimala, hate women.

I’m simply saying I am in absence of another reasonable explanation for why this has happened.

And it’s not a movie, is it? It’s an event. 50 Shades was an event. A cultural moment. Which is strange because 50 Shades coincided very neatly with #MeToo. But it’s just so deftly tired. Like the tides and the seasons, the immutable “she’s asking for it” is always put forward at some point. An apocryphal bald-headed man in a pub with a Stella in his hand is opining that “she’s playing hard to get” and using the time his wife wanted to role-play with him as a burglar as some sort of lived experience. I don’t know if that statue of a man will ever stop asking the question to the eternal pub, his forever amber pint always in his unmovable hand. I don’t know why he says it; perhaps he likes making everyone uncomfortable.

I don’t have the answers, but if there are any, they are not to be found in a film as reductive as this one. For this is a film for which we have asked a difficult question, one with a hundred thousand voices crying out in rage behind it, and we are greeted with one hour and 56 minutes of wet farting noise.