There is this meme that has been making rounds on social media. There is a picture of a woman crying and then the words “Me when I remember that no rich mafia is going to kidnap me and give me 365 days in which to fall in love with him”
Welcome to the very problematic world of 365 days.
For those who haven’t watched it, 365 days is a 2020 Polish romantic drama film directed by Barbara Bialowas and Tomasz Mandes. The plot follows a young woman, Laura in a spiritless relationship falling for a dominant Sicilian mafia, Massimo who is heir to a major criminal organization and does not just insist on having the top 3 buttons of his shirt open at all times, but also does not understand the meaning of the word “NO”.
The mafia in a gesture of a century sweeps Laura off her feet (literally), against her wishes, imprisons her in his villa and grants her 365 days in which to fall in love with him. Four months after its release, the movie has gone on to become one of the most viewed items on Netflix.
Now I am all for a good steamy movie but I was unable to enjoy this one. The plot-line and its male protagonist is disturbing and way too familiar. The damaging tone has too broad a reach and that tone reinforces pervasive cultural messages women are already swallowing about what they should tolerate in society and in their romantic relationships… After all wasn’t it only two years ago that this country had to deal with a wave of women kidnaps and murders across the country!
The director of this film tries so hard to romanticize Laura’s situation and kidnap. She wants us to think that this is a beautiful tale of a woman finding love albeit short term. But when you look deeper which is hard to do in a movie with the depth of a murky wading pool, this movie is about a man assuming control over a woman. A man who knows you want it and so goes ahead and gives it to you. It is about the inordinate pride men feel in owning and wielding their dicks.
For instance she wants us to believe that Laura was free to walk away from this proposal but the truthfulness of this is uncertain considering that she is aware that he’s a murderer. In another scene, the mafia kills another colleague of his when he finds out that that colleague kidnaps children. The director again wants us to believe that this man is not a monster, just a man guilty of abduction, kidnapping, sexual assault, murder etc. etc.
Movies like these and the men- and women who make them believe that a woman’s body and her entire essence is at a man’s disposal to do with as he pleases. It is a belief that women world over are still battling with. Watching that movie, I kept thinking that probably all Laura wanted was enjoy her birthday and go home to a nice long shower- but instead, she was taken against her will in another portrayal of how much our bodies are disposable and introduced to the dark world of Massimo where she eventually dies. In a movie with such a terrible terrible plot line, it is funny in the way sad things are funny that it could not even give us a good ending.
I want to believe that the young women who shared that meme were only joking but I am afraid some are not. Our culture has treated women so poorly for so long that suffering abuse to receive attention from a hot and rich Mafia seems like a fair and reasonable bargain.
Every time we side with a rapist, every time we fail to call out the misogyny in the men we hang out with, every time a powerful men gets away with treating a woman like shit, every time we take pleasure in watching movies like 365 days, movies that glorify and romanticize violence against women. We are telling women, we are telling ourselves that it is okay for men- mafia, not-mafia, rich, and poor, famous, not famous to abuse women.
I want to believe that this Mafia was meant to be a Prince Charming, who gets Laura from her boring relationship and ushers her into a lavish life of shopping sprees and passionate sex but for me, a few minutes into the movie, this prince charming had lost all his charm.