365 Days: This Day review – more horny nonsense deconstructs its own fantasy

April 27, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 0
Film, Film Reviews, Netflix, Streaming Service
2

Summary

The sequel to 365 Days mostly delivers more of the same, but in doing so it breaks apart the allure of its own fantasy, for better and worse.

2

Summary

The sequel to 365 Days mostly delivers more of the same, but in doing so it breaks apart the allure of its own fantasy, for better and worse.

This review of 365 Days: This Day is spoiler-free.


Okay, so here’s the problem with 365 Days: This Day, and indeed all the other films in the vaguely worrying erotic thriller lineage that the success of 50 Shades of Gray turned into totally acceptable mainstream mass-market entertainment. They’re obviously deeply unhealthy depictions of sex and relationships that glamorize and justify various forms of controlling abuse and domination, but nobody who’s into these movies really cares about that. And in a way, they’re right not to. If these films are anything, they’re arch sexual fantasies given flesh. There’s an understanding among their audience that they’re not real, and could never be real, and while it feels like a critical responsibility to point out that they probably don’t represent a net societal good, it also feels a little insulting to assume that those who enjoy them aren’t capable of separating fantasy from reality.

One of the few good ideas 365 Days: This Day has is being explicitly about what happens when that fantasy erodes and leaves only reality behind.

So, this is the idea. Laura (Anna Maria Sieklucka) and Massimo (Michele Morrone) are now married, some might say happily. Laura lost her unborn baby in the accident during the first film’s climax, but she’s keeping that – and indeed her being pregnant in the first place – a secret from her new husband. Her only confidante is Olga (Magdalena Lamparska), who is otherwise occupied by a burgeoning relationship with Massimo’s associate Domenico (Otar Saralidze), so Laura is left to play the quiet, abiding housewife, a role that she very quickly comes to despise given that the responsibilities of a Mafia Don’s spouse are simply to sit around and be pampered – for her protection, Massimo insists.

Some of this is about addressing the widely criticized aspects of the first film’s premise. Laura says outright that Massimo kidnapping her was sick and lets both him and the audience know that her continuing to be with him is her decision. And the power imbalance between Massimo and Laura has obviously shifted. When he tries to order her around, she berates him. In the longwinded sexual montages that comprise roughly 80% of the 106-minute runtime, she mostly assumes control. Laura is no longer a prisoner, but Massimo’s partner. Sort of, anyway.

That “sort of” is the point. Unable to pursue her own ambitions and live freely, Laura quickly finds herself frustrated with her new life, patting the empty space in the bed where Massimo was before he had to leave for work. He still has his criminal responsibilities to consider. He even says to her at one point, “We’re back to our normal life.” Of course, Laura never had a normal life with him; she only existed in his fantastical sex life. Part of her becoming more than just his plaything is becoming an actual part of his mundane day-to-day. And she’s not a fan.

Enter Nacho (Simone Susinna), Massimo’s insanely good-looking gardener. He’s charming, he cooks, he cleans, he dotes on his pregnant sister, and he represents, at least to Laura, an escape from a life that she is rapidly beginning to feel trapped by. Thanks to a couple of frankly ridiculous plot turns, he also becomes Laura’s literal savior, and after they abscond, the film’s thin plot continues from there.

There are some problems with Nacho’s character. 365 Days: This Day wants him to represent a kind of humble working-class authenticity, but it also requires him to be part of a new fantasy, so despite being a gardener he lives in this insane beachside crib; he’s all tender and sensitive but he wrangles a home intruder with expert efficiency. These contradictions are eventually addressed in a plot point, but the “twist”, if you could call it that, is telegraphed by the film trying to have its cake and eat it with this guy.

But no matter. Almost nobody cares about this sort of thing but me, and I only care because it’s my job to. What you really need to know, probably, is that the sequel to 365 Days is just as full of sex montages set to pop music, includes a couple of scenes that’ll raise an eyebrow or two, and has a standard of acting and writing that might charitably be described as appalling. Everyone involved was presumably cast based on how good they look in the throes of simulated orgasm, and yes, I can confirm they look great. (Seriously, just wait for the attention this Nacho guy gets.) Beyond that, though, there’s nothing here. If you stripped out all the montages – it isn’t just sex, but also shopping, dining, and driving nice cars very quickly down picturesque mountain roads – there’s about 15 minutes of plot here, at best. For many, this will be exactly what they want to hear.

For everyone else, well… what were you expecting?

You can stream 365 Days: This Day exclusively on Netflix.

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