At the height of lockdown, when Netflix proved to be our only solace and source of entertainment, audiences around the world found themselves mesmerised by one rather racy film in particular, 365 Days. The film was anything but spectacular. The acting was worse than the kind of stilted delivery and exaggeration you’d find on a soap drama, while the soundtrack was equal parts ominous and ridiculous. But at a time where social distancing came to govern our lives and we suddenly forgot what it was like to feel the warmth of human touch, the vigorous sex scenes and frequent bumping and grinding was an escape we were willing to embark on.
For the minority of people who didn’t tune into 365 Days, the film told the story of an Italian mafia boss who kidnaps a woman he’s infatuated with and demands she spend the next year at his palatial Sicilian villa. He promises, “I’m giving you the chance to fall in love with me.” Yeah, because that’s not creepy at all. Now, the controversial film is set to get two new instalments by way of sequels that will land on the streaming giant, with Netflix announcing it will double down on the Polish film’s success.
Deadline reports that the new films will focus on the next two books in the trilogy series written by Blanka Lipinska. The synopsis suggests, “Laura and Massimo are reunited, but their new beginning is complicated by Massimo’s family ties and a mysterious man who enters Laura’s life to win her heart and trust at any cost.” The film’s two stars, Michele Morrone who played Massimo and Anna-Maria Sieklucka, who played Laura, are set to reprise their roles.
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That the film has proved a hit with audiences isn’t too surprising given that it bears similarities to 50 Shades of Grey. However, 365 Days was not without its controversies as many expressed their concern over the film’s subject matter. When comparing it to 50 Shades of Grey, many will be familiar with the way the latter dealt with consent (even though this too came to be debated). In 50 Shades, the protagonist goes over a contract detailing the conditions of their dominant-submissive relationship. 365 Days gives little evidence to suggest Massimo and Laura have a consensual sexual experience of any kind. There are numerous red flags and of course, the glaringly obvious fact that Laura has been kidnapped with Massimo refusing to let her leave.
The film was slammed by sexual assault survivors, including the singer Duffy, who said in an open letter to Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings that the film “glamorises the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape.” Duffy posted the essay on 365 Days to her website in which she revealed she had been drugged and raped after being kidnapped, and called Netflix’s decision to stream the film “irresponsible.”
“To anyone who may exclaim ‘it is just a movie’, it is not ‘just’, when it has great influence to distort a subject which is widely undiscussed, such as sex trafficking and kidnapping, by making the subject erotic.”
She went on to appeal to those who had watched the film: “I encourage the millions who have enjoyed the movie to reflect on the reality of kidnapping and trafficking, of force and sexual exploitation, and of an experience that is the polar opposition of the glossy fantasy depicted in ‘365 Days’.”
The controversy extended to TikTok where the “365 Days’ Challenge” prompted users to pas bruises off as the result of rough sex and express their desire in being kidnapped by Morrone. It led to a change.org petition urging Netflix to pull the film, one that has garnered more than 69,000 signatures.
For Netflix to announce not one but two more sequels seems to suggest the streaming platform has ignored such requests to pull the film, and shirk all responsibility that sees a film glamorising abusive behaviour continue to prevail on its platform.
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