Sexual Fireworks? Commentary on the film “365 Days”
The film, 365 Days, directed by Barbara Białowąs, has been moving in and out of the number one spot on Netflix since it debuted on June 10. I first heard about it from a male friend who said, “It’s supposed to be sexy.”
Buzzfeed senior cultural reporter Scaachi Koul wrote a brilliantly hilarious and right-on review (which I recommend) of this Polish film (which I do not recommend). And neither did she, exactly. One of the article’s pull quotes: “It’s effectively a rape fantasy that clearly hates its woman protagonist, but good god, it fucks.”
On a sun-drenched yacht, the couple engages in sexual intercourse in a variety of positions in a variety of places—on deck, below deck, fore and aft, medium shots, shots from a drone’s eye view. These scenes, when the camera zooms in, are nicely photographed; and the music is appropriately rhythmic and intense.
But to get to that fucking, you have to wait for an hour into the movie. Before that, you must endure Sicilian crime family business, human trafficking, kidnapping, and the rather silly premise that a person who is holding you captive (albeit providing a whatever-you-want high-fashion shopping spree) declares that he is giving you a year to fall in love with him…
The guy, Massimo, is swarthy, tattooed and fashionably unshaven with full lips that curl easily into cruelty, or at least the disdain of the privileged. This is most disturbing at the beginning of the film where he, I would say, forces, a cabin attendant on his private plane to give him oral sex; he holds her by the hair and takes his pleasure. The look on his face, though, is not even pleasure, it is, as I said, violent, like he’s mad about something that has nothing to do with this woman kneeling in front of him. She is a receptacle. If I didn’t know the boat scene was coming up, I probably would have turned the thing off right then. But, I was researching, after all.
The awaited sequence on the yacht is basically soft core porn, a little more explicit than the sex in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy (Yes, I’ve seen all those movies and read the books they were based on). You see the mafia scion’s butt and pecs, but never a glimpse of his “manhood.” For Ana (I think that is the character’s name; it was rarely spoken), it’s just T & A, with not a pubic hair revealed. In some foreign films, you may see a penis now and again, but not in an excited state. THAT, to me, is, forgive the pun, hard core, and it would not be OK on Netflix.
There is also another scene, (actually I had just viewed something similar in episode 10, season five of Outlander) where the man forces a captive heroine to watch him have sex with another woman brought in to be used (in this case, the female prop is wearing kink chains and leather). Our leading man says to his captive woman, who is handcuffed to the bed here, “I want you to see what you’re missing.”
(Both Massimo and the Bonnet character in Outlander recited the same line.)
And what is it she is missing??? In the case of 365, what she is missing is not a man making love to her in the way she desires, driving her wild with pleasure. Pleasure does not seem to be in the equation at all, at least the prop woman does not seem to be enjoying the exhibition. Massimo is saying, in effect, to his kidnapped obsession, “You’re missing the opportunity for me to come in your mouth.”
Yeah, right, I can’t wait.
OK, I’m not judging that particular act, but jeez, context is everything.
A scene I did appreciate—after the energetic and apparently consensual frolicking at sea had relaxed me a bit—took place at a masked ball the same night. Massimo invites Ana to dance. “Oh, you’re asking for a change?” she says. Then they perform a passionate tango. OK, OK, that eight-minute stretch from boat to ball was very entertaining.
I would say if you want to spend time with 365 Days and put up with its characters without motivation and plot without sense, that’s up to you. Unlike with good old DVDs, streaming does not allow you to pick the “chapter” you want and go straight to the hot stuff. You have to fast forward to 1:07.
On this week’s agenda, a film I found well worth my time, even though I’d seen it before (but not for many years), was Body Heat. This 1981 noir thriller, Lawrence Kasdan’s first effort as a director, stars Kathleen Turner and William Hurt, who were then young, “fresh faces” in Hollywood.
Memorable erotic scenes in Body Heat include sweat-slicked nudity, sure, but Turner in a clinging white silk dress swinging her magnificent legs out of a car to crush out her cigarette with her high heeled pump, is a standout. Hurt, teased to his maximum and unable to retreat from her gaze through the leaded glass of her locked front door, uses a porch chair to smash through a side panel’s glass and meet her waiting embrace. There’s something about how he pulls up her red fitted red skirt to reveal sweet white panties—the symbol of the character Matty’s seeming innocence. It belies what the character Ned would later describe this way, “She was relentless. That was her special gift.”
And the film is wrapped John Barry’s sensual jazz score, a torrid yet plaintive alto sax constantly reminding us of sex and danger.
If you can still get Body Heat on DVD, you’ll be rewarded with excellent interviews with the director and actors, and a very fine “making of” documentary. And look up Larry Kasdan, who by that time in his career had written the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back, and would subsequently write, produce and direct winning and popular films like The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist, Grand Canyon and more in the Star Wars series, among others.
Last light I watched Kasdan’s 1985 western Silverado, a classic take on the genre which made an adorable 30-year-old Kevin Costner a star, and included Kevin Kline, Danny Glover and Scott Glenn as the kind of gunslingers you’d like to have on your side.
ok! So I’m not going to watch any of the movies you mention with misogynistic sex, BUT I love to read what you write.
I figure at my age I don’t have to watch stuff that makes me squirm (and not in the good way).
I might like a fresh faced Kevin Costner, and I’ve been looking for a movie I recall liking, The Big Easy.
Thanks for reviewing. Do more
Thanks so much for commenting!!! My next blog will be a list of the erotic films I enjoyed, with brief reviews. A few people have asked. The Big Easy is on that list. But I’ll tell you when I rented it the last time, the scene I remembered was not there and I feared they had censored it. You will love Kevin Costner in Silverado; there is a lot of shooting in it, but I can’t explain why it is not disturbing. I guess it is because that was the Wild West. And the good guys win.