AN ANGRY essay
Today we’re talking about a film that has literally no business being one of the U.S’s top trending films on Netflix this week titled 365 Days. A movie that bears the tagline “A woman falls victim to a dominant mafia boss, who imprisons her and gives her one year to fall in love with him” to which I admit, I foolishly thought it was a serious thriller or action movie. I contemplated writing this rant at all, but I think this film represents something that needs to be talked about. Plus, I already did the disservice to myself by watching it for you. You’re welcome(?).
Before we go any further, I need to issue a CONTENT WARNING. This essay will be discussing sexual violence between characters in the film. I’m also not here to write off erotic films in general, but rather this poor excuse for one. These opinions are my own and are not meant to represent the rest of the CRPWrites staff.
If you thought 50 Shades of Grey was problematic, buckle up because yes, it can get much worse.
We follow a man named Mossimo who sees a woman he finds attractive on the beach. Moments later his father is shot to death by mafia business associates and Mossimo himself is shot in the stomach. We are immediately told to feel sorry for him even though he is actually the bad guy in this story. I should mention one of my initial problems with this film is that it begins from Mossimo's point of view.
Five years later, we see Mossimo corner a flight-attendant on his private jet forcing her into giving him oral. It’s set up to be a really sexy scene, showing Mossimo can get (or rather force) any girl to be with him, intercutting with scenes of a random woman from a meeting who wants Mossimo while she masterbates in her room. We are supposed to think he looks desirable and dominant, when really he just looks like a predator. In the scene following, he sees who he believes is the same woman from the beach at an airport in Sicily, Laura, who is on vacation to fix her troubled relationship with her self-centered boyfriend, who has no passion in the bedroom. Mossimo immediately finds out where she is staying and kidnaps her, later having her wake in his mansion.
She wanders around the house and finds a haunting painting of her on the wall. Then, in his creepy fashion, Mossimo sneaks up behind her and says he will let her go in a year to date if she doesn’t fall in love with him. Naturally, she tells him to eff off and attempts to run away, but he grabs her and slams her into a chair. He exclaims he isn’t going to touch her without her consent as he literally gropes her chest. I wanted to vomit at this point.
Mossimo showers her with shopping sprees and fine dining. The shopping scenes specifically are all really upbeat try-on montages layered with pop songs and comedic timing that makes it feel like you're watching a different movie. Most of the time a film will have only one of these and you get the jist, but this movie has about five and each time it brings everything to a halt. I don’t think there’s any significance to them. In all seriousness it seems the director, writer, or someone just really likes shopping. However, I noticed how every time Mossimo takes her shopping, she seems to tolerate her predicament a little more, growing fonder of him.
There are moments where Laura teases Mossimo in a way that I took as her way of making him weak in order to defend herself and escape, but this isn’t that kind of story. She convinces him through sexy eyes to give her phone and laptop back, which I thought was smart. But in that moment it was clear she had hearts floating above her head. In the scene before he asks her to teach him how to be more gentle as she bashfully obliges. This is where the Stockholm Syndrome starts to really kick in. She thinks he cares about her because he gave her back the belongings he stole in the first place. He makes her think she has some say in how he treats her going forward. Her flutterly reaction suggests that she is considering him as a good guy and does care about her. She calls her mom and lies about getting a job in Sicily with a year long contract. He’s fully manipulated her into thinking she is making the choice to stay. She falls asleep and she wakes up next to him, but it is unclear if he did anything to her.
After a sort of tease fest in the shower where Laura makes it clear she isn’t afraid of his threats, we cut to the exterior of the private jet. Mossimo and his men stand waiting as an SUV pulls up. The driver gets out and picks up a screaming and kicking Laura and carries her into the plane. The men tell Mossimo “she’s feisty” and “good luck” like we are supposed to laugh and agree she is a pain in the ass or something. This is one of the biggest moments where the film shows how tone deaf it is. This is not something that should be framed as a comedic moment. These men just see her as a hassle, even though they have all had a part in her kidnapping. Next scene we see him literally touching her without her consent and without her being able to do anything about it as she is obnoxiously harnessed into her seat. This is NOT OKAY!
There is another troubling scene soon after where she comes to his hotel room and teases him, but decides to leave, making her feel like the one in control. To make it very clear, her deciding to come to his room is not what I have an issue with. Her deciding she doesn’t want to do anything does not put her at any fault. She tries to open the door but it’s locked, a sick reminder that she is still a prisoner. He pushes her onto the bed, ties her up and makes her watch another woman give him oral trying to make her jealous, I’m assuming. The bed and the rope he ties her up with will remind you of Christian Grey’s BDSM dungeon, however Mossimo isn’t doing this with Laura’s consent, mind you. There isn’t a safe word or even a choice for her. That’s what makes these movies different. 50SOG, though it has its own problems, is about two consenting adults who embark on a journey to learning how to please each other. 365 Days is about a selfish sick man who hurts a woman repeatedly for his own pleasure, but it tricks you into thinking it's just like 50 Shades through it’s sensual romantic implications. They have Laura come to his room to make it look like she is the one who was asking for it to continue playing this game of tease that they want the audience to buy into when its really sexual abuse.
Later that night, Laura decides to piss off Mossimo by wearing a completely normal going out dress to a strip club. At this point I can’t tell if she’s back to being angry about her situation or if she has stopped caring altogether. She moves around the club and minds her business, knowing he is getting angrier by the second. However, things get out of hand when Mossimo’s business friend starts inappropriately touching her and forcing himself on her, where Mossimo steps in and “saves” her. The next day Laura finds out Mossimo killed that guy, who we can assume is a member of a rival mafia family. She calls him out, they start fighting, he pushes her off his boat and then “saves” her, prompting another heart-eyes moment for her and they have sex right after in a very graphic scene. This is what I’m assuming is the scene that people are flocking to this movie for.
To be crystal clear, by them “having sex”, I mean Mossimo raping her since she is in this whole sitation against her will in the first place. The film wants us to think she is okay with this by her implying eagerness to have sex with him, which is the ultimate ISSUE! She is not in love with him. She does not have true feelings for him. He does not have true feelings for her. People who truly love you do not hold you hostage until you fall in love with them. She looks like she’s into it because his manipulation is ingrained into her at this point.
At a masquerade ball, Mossimo’s ex Anna confronts him. She is extremely jealous and threatens to kill Laura. Mossimo reveals he left Anna when he found Laura at the airport and that her paintings have been hanging up for years so it was never a secret. This guy is literally so deranged, but we are being made to think he is so in love with her. I have a suspicion this was some arranged setup by Mossimo to make himself look desirable to Laura, further adding to her Stockholm exchange. It apparently works because they bone in the bathroom, and he drops the news he’s sending her back to Poland for the time being. She responds in anger and confusion like he’s abandoning her. He walks away from her and says “I love you”. What. The. Hell.
She arrives in Poland, to a fancy apartment he got for her. Then she goes to her friend Olga’s place, where she explains she fell in love and explains that he makes her feel like a child (eek) and makes all her sexual fantasies come true. Remember, her boyfriend at the beginning did not sexually fulfill her, so the comparison to Mossimo is unknowingly working in his favor. Olga decides she isn’t buying it and demands the truth. Long story short, they get drunk and Laura admits out loud she was kidnapped and Olga’s reaction is basically “you gotta get out of that situation, but let’s go clubbing!” and cuts to yet another getting ready sequence, straight out of a teen dramedy. After what seems like a whole day (hard to tell with movie magic), Mossimo comes back to retrieve her, resulting in reunion sex. Oh how they missed each other! She announces that she doesn’t need 365 days anymore because she loves him. It's been like 2 months. She wakes up the next morning to him asking her to marry him, the ring already on her finger. She says yes. Barf.
Laura has a conversation with Mossimo’s uncle (I think) and he says she has caused some commotion within the family. I’m sorry, but what exactly commotion has she caused by being abducted and brainwashed? Oh! I think it’s because she’s not Italian. But he promises to arrange Olga’s arrival for the wedding and admits his hopes for her friend being calmer than Laura is. *Face palm*
When Olga gets there, Laura tells her that she is pregnant and her friend all of a sudden has a normal reaction and flips out on her and tries to convince Laura to leave with her and she will help raise the baby. So that, you know, she isn’t stuck with her rapist kidnapper forever? Well, it doesn’t matter because they drive into a tunnel and never come out and that is the end of the movie. Do they die? Did the car break down? I guess we’re supposed to wait around for the sequel, which… no thanks.
I believe this film is trending so high on U.S. Netflix solely for the sex gimmick. Sex has been ingrained into our psyche by the shows, movies, video games, and advertisements we consume on a daily basis. Having a platform like Netflix release something like this can feel convenient for some to get their… fix. To be honest, I really thought we had a better understanding of where we cross the line for stuff like this but I guess not.
That isn’t to say this is entirely the viewer’s fault. Films don’t naturally grow inside our TVs. They are made by people, which means there has to be someone who is responsible. As a society, we don’t have to continue supporting it. We can stop at any time, folks! But it’s hard for a world stuck so deep in its backward misogynistic roots, that someone signed off on the script failing to see anything wrong with it. Netflix is also to blame for putting it on it's platform at all. It baffles me that anyone would want to indulge in this sick twisted story any further by making it a movie. I don’t understand how you can write a story, or make a film about something so evil while having no commentary on it, but only just have it be fun and sexy. Not to mention, it was directed by a woman and the book series was written by a woman, geared toward a woman audience. Make it make sense!
As a filmmaker in this day and age, it is more important than ever to be aware of the things you put out into the world. As a concerned citizen I felt compelled to voice how harmful this story is for how triggering it could be to survivors of sexual violence. How a group of filmmakers would make something suggesting that kidnapping and abusing someone can be justified through sexuality is incredibly irresponsible. Our society already has a tough time grasping rape culture, and then we get this hot steaming pile of garbage at everyone’s disposal to set us ten years back because people just wanna watch "hot" Mossimo. It doesn’t matter what he does, he could have killed her and some weirdos would still be drooling.
Sure, it's just a movie. But what disturbed me was the tactless, unapologetic message. This isn’t a drama about a woman who gets kidnapped and abused resulting in her journey to freedom. This isn’t a story about a woman who leaves her neglectful boyfriend for a man she met on the beach that turns into an adventure of love and romance. No, this is a crime story about a man who kidnaps a woman and sexually coerces and manipulates her for his pleasure disguised as a romantic sexy love story. The fact that Netflix allowed this on it’s platform at all has done a disservice to survivors of kidnapping, domestic and sexual violence everywhere. I just hope going forward, people become more conscious of the context in the things they consume and platforms simply DON'T acquire and push dangerous content like this. It's really not that difficult.