Runtime: 114 Minutes
Director/Writer: Barbara Białowas
Cast: Michele Morrone, Anna-Maria Sieklucka, Bronislaw Wroclawski
By Simon Whitlock
Every year, Valentine’s Day leaves in its wake a fair number of films portraying love and romance in all of its pain and glory. Thanks to the incredibly short-lived craze surrounding “50 Shades of Grey”’s cinematic adaptation in February 2015 though, the possibilities seemed endless for more “mature” love stories (aka: erotic romance) to make it big on the big screen, and subvert what people would expect from a Valentine’s release. In the end this never happened, and a whole five years since that particular wave crested, along comes “365 Days”: the latest film from Polish writer/director Barbara Białowas.
“365 Days” tells the story of Massimo (Michele Morrone), the heir to a major criminal organisation who doesn’t just insist on having the top three buttons of his shirt open at all times, but who is also not afraid to get his hands dirty to take care of insubordination, and who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “no”; qualities which are exactly what one looks for in a romantic hero.
When the director isn’t throwing the film’s budget at the screen, she also finds time to try and give the film a semblance of a plot…In a fit of irony, a film so obsessed with the sins of the flesh fails to reach a satisfying climax, without even the hint or a promise that there’s more to come.
After an altercation which leaves him close to death, Massimo has a vision of a woman which takes over his life, and five years of searching later, in Sicily he finds Laura (Anna-Maria Sieklucka), a Varsovian hotel sales director in a stable yet unfulfilling relationship, celebrating her 29th birthday. In a gesture for the ages, Massimo quite literally sweeps Laura off her feet (with the help of a tranquilliser and some hired heavies), holds her captive in his villa and then makes her a life-changing offer: stay with him for 365 days and fall in love with him. If she doesn’t, Laura’s told that she’s free to leave, though the truthfulness of that last part of the offer is a little uncertain, given he’s the head of a criminal enterprise.
Białowas does all she can to try and minimalise the horror of Laura’s situation, however the end result is at best misjudged. Massimo is a man who doesn’t hesitate to assault his female staff, including one particularly unpleasant interaction with a female air steward in the back of a private jet. On the other hand though, he has some limits to his moral turpitude, and takes action to execute a member of his organisation who involves himself in child trafficking, so at least he’s not a monster – just a man guilty of abduction, kidnapping, sexual assault, murder and likely a lot more besides.
“365 Days” may be the worst film released all year, and it’s only February. There is no redeeming quality, no level of enjoyment even on an ironic level.
“365 Days” is in fact based on a series of Polish erotic romance novels, very much in the same vein as the “Fifty Shades” books. The influence is writ large in Białowas’ film: at every opportunity the screen is saturated with opulent costumes and locations, and the whole thing flits from montages of shopping and makeovers, to disturbing displays of sexual assault and intimidation until Laura inevitably admits defeat, leading to interminable scenes of passionless rutting set to a third-rate R&B soundtrack.
When the director isn’t throwing the film’s budget at the screen, she also finds time to try and give the film a semblance of a plot, involving a rival mob family threatening war on Massimo’s clan, which comes to a head at the film’s ending – or lack thereof. In a fit of irony, a film so obsessed with the sins of the flesh fails to reach a satisfying climax, without even the hint or a promise that there’s more to come.
Make no mistake, “365 Days” may be the worst film released all year, and it’s only February. There is no redeeming quality, no level of enjoyment even on an ironic level. This film is offensively bad, to the point where a cold shower is needed not to quell any rising urges from nearly two hours of this dreck, but to cleanse oneself all the way down to the soul.