What Is ‘365 Days’ About?

Michele Morrone and Anna marie SIeklucka in 365 Days Ball
Image Via Netflix

Based on the first novel of the erotic trilogy of the same name by author Blanka Lipińska, 365 Days is a love story between an Italian mafia boss and a Polish businesswoman. Or maybe it’s a film about severe Stockholm Syndrome. It’s kind of hard to tell. Basically, Massimo (Michele Morrone) becomes obsessed with Laura (Anna-Maria Sieklucka) after seeing her on the beach on the same day that his father was killed by a rival gang. Massimo himself was injured in the attack, and Laura’s face was the last thing he remembers seeing before losing consciousness. He spends the next five years looking for her all around the world. He finally finds her again while she’s traveling through Sicily with her good-for-nothing boyfriend, Martin (Mateusz Lasowski).

So what does Massimo do now that he has found his mystery woman? Does he ask her out on a date? No, he kidnaps her and gives her 365 days to fall in love with him. Which, of course, she does, and it doesn’t even take her a whole year. Initially enraged by being made a prisoner by some mobster, Laura slowly acquiesces to Massimo’s desires, until she begins to have feelings for him herself. These feelings start out as merely carnal but soon develop into something more.

Michele Morrone and Anna marie SIeklucka in 365 Days
Image Via Netflix

Unsurprisingly, the film came under some heavy fire for how it deals with topics such as abuse and consent. Many have accused 365 Days of glorifying rape, sex trafficking, and domestic violence, and it’s hard to say that they are wrong. The movie does portray a woman being kidnaped for sexual purposes as something romantic. The same can be said about the repeated instances in which Massimo violently restrains or manhandles Laura. Furthermore, despite Massimo’s constant remarks that he won’t do anything to Laura against her will (except kidnaping her, of course), he repeatedly touches her in a sexual way without her consent. All of this is framed as arousing by directors Barbara Bialowas and Tomasz Mandes. At the time of its release, the discourse around the movie was inescapable.

A petition on Change.org asking Netflix to remove the film from its catalog attracted over 3,500 subscribers. Singer Duffy published an open letter via Deadline panning the movie for romanticizing a kind of traumatic experience that many women, including herself, go through and asking for its removal from the streaming platform. It didn’t take. The movie became the number-one film on Netflix in no time. The streamer not only kept the movie up but also released two more installments of the franchise in 2022: 365 Days: This Day and The Next 365 Days. The only thing Netflix did was change the movie’s synopsis so that it would be a little more straightforward regarding the story’s themes. The original one read “She feels suffocated in her new relationship. But will she breathe new passion into her life while held captive by another man?”. After the controversy, it was changed to “A woman falls victim to a dominant mafia boss, who imprisons her and gives her one year to fall in love with him.”

What Is Up with the Yacht Scene in ‘365 Days’?

Michele Morrone and Anna Marie SIeklucka in the shower in 365 Days
Image Via Netflix

But not all the discourse surrounding 365 Days is as harrowing as accusations of rape glorification. There are also some more lighthearted controversies regarding the film. More specifically, there was a lot of debate about the movie’s ultra-realistic sex scenes, which were so well shot and acted that many viewers were convinced that the actors were indeed having sex on camera. One scene, in particular, took the internet by storm: Massimo and Laura’s first (and second, and third…) de facto sexual encounter aboard a yacht.

It all starts when Massimo takes Laura to one of his family’s many nightclubs. At the party, Laura is harassed by a man from a rival gang, and Massimo shoots him in the hands. The next morning, Massimo and Laura argue about the incident in his yacht. Massimo blames Laura for the assault, claiming that she dressed too provocatively to rile him up. Laura, on the other hand, says that it’s not her fault that one of Massimo’s acquaintances tried to assault her. Tempers rise and the two begin to take their fight to different parts of the boat. Eventually, Massimo grabs Laura by the arm. She pulls back and, in doing so, falls over the rails, into the water. Massimo jumps after her and saves her from drowning.

Are the Sex Scenes in ‘365 Days’ Real?

Michele Morrone and Anna marie SIeklucka at the sea in 365 Days
Image Via Netflix

When Laura wakes up in her cabin, she’s shocked to find Massimo soaking wet beside her. She realizes what happened and invites him into bed with her. What follows is a very graphic sequence of sex scenes – or at least, as graphic as a sex scene can get without showing any genitals. Even so, many viewers were convinced that Michele Morrone and Anna-Maria Sieklucka were actually going at it. Indeed, the work of cinematographer Bartek Cierlica in this scene is so well-done, and the performances of Morrone and Sieklucka so uncanny, that it’s hard to tell fact from fiction at a first glance.

But even though there have been instances of non-porn movies featuring real sex, this is not the case with 365 Days. Speaking to Variety on the film’s extremely convincing sex scenes, Cierlica made it clear that it was all fake. “We didn’t want to create porn, but at the same time, we wanted to do justice to the book that is pretty full of very intimate and passionate sex descriptions,” said the cinematographer.

When asked about his strategies for shooting intimate scenes, he stated: “We wanted the camera to be as much invisible as possible, to let them act, so indeed the takes were very, very long. We created the most intimate atmosphere we could for the actors. We reduced the on-set crew to an absolute minimum. As it was handheld I was following their action, and trying to show their passion in a natural but beautiful way. We wanted this sex to be pretty authentic. We wanted this sex to be pretty authentic. We wanted the viewer to hear their whispers, heavy breaths and we wanted to show the sweat, passion. Be natural, authentic, but not to cross the border of pornography.”

Morrone also dispelled rumors about the scene being real. According to Entertainment Tonight, the actor spoke about it in a now private Instagram Live video back in 2020, in which he stated that the scene “seems like real because we are good actors.” In an interview with Polish website Plotek.pl, the actor also commented on another part of the movie that got some extra attention: the oral sex scene that takes place early on in the film, in which Massimo receives a blowjob from a flight attendant. According to Morrone, prosthetics were used to make the scene more realistic. “It was awkward, but it was funny,” said Morrone before recalling that he had some trouble getting into character as he would start laughing whenever the cameras began to roll.