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Netflix’s ‘controversial’ erotic drama ‘365 Days’ sparks backlash: Here’s why people are talking

  • July 03, 2020

The film “365 Days” on Netflix has people talking – not for the right reasons. 

The trending Polish erotic drama, starring Michele Morrone and Anna-Maria Sieklucka, centers around a dominant mafia boss who imprisons a young woman and gives her 365 days to fall in love with him. The film, based off Blanka Lipinska’s bestselling novel “365 dni,” offers a blanket “TV-MA” rating on Netflix due to “sex, nudity, sexual violence, language and smoking.”

The streaming platform does describe the sex-saturated tale as “controversial” on its website. “365 Days” has quickly gained global popularity since its debut last month, maintaining a place in the Top 10 alongside recent family-friendly hits “Floor Is Lava” and Will Ferrell’s “Eurovision Song Contest.” (As of Thursday, “365 Days” is trending at No. 7.)

The film is so popular its star says a sequel is happening. Morrone, the Italian heartthrob who now boasts over 7.4 million followers on Instagram, confirmed Tuesday that he would reprise his role during a personalized fan video obtained by TMZ.

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Critics, however, are in disbelief over the film’s popularity because it “defies nearly every rule of good filmmaking,” as the Atlantic put it, while Rotten Tomatoes shows the film sitting at a ghastly 0% rating

“Thoroughly terrible, politically objectionable, occasionally hilarious,” Variety critic Jessica Kiang said, while Common Sense Media’s Barbara Shulgasser-Parker calls it a “poorly written…blatant rip-off of ‘Fifty Shades of Gray.'”  

Others are horrified the film is streaming on Netflix. Many critics have accused the movie of perpetuating rape culture, while glorifying sex trafficking, kidnapping and Stockholm syndrome to teens and young adults.

Michele Morrone (left) and Anna-Maria Sieklucka (right) star in the Polish film 365 Days.

Duffy, the Welsh singer behind the 2008 hit song “Mercy,” penned an open letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to call for the removal of the “irresponsible” film.

“‘365 Days’ glamorizes the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape,” Duffy wrote in an open letter, obtained by Deadline. “This should not be anyone’s idea of entertainment, nor should it be described as such, or be commercialized in this manner.”

British singer Duffy poses for photographs in West London on Nov. 17, 2010.

“You have not realized how ‘365 Days’ has brought great hurt to those who have endured the pains and horrors that this film glamorizes,” Duffy writes in her open letter. “What I and others who know these injustices need is the exact opposite – a narrative of truth, hope, and to be given a voice.”

In the film, Don Massimo (Morrone) holds Laura (Sieklucka) prisoner after tracking her down since catching his eye five years earlier. “You’ll be mine. I guarantee it,” Massimo says. 

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“Nobody owns me. I’m not an object. You can’t have me just like that; kidnap me and think I’m all yours,” Laura retorts. Massimo then seduces his way into Laura’s heart over the 365 days with money, a lavish lifestyle and manipulative sexual tactics. 

Cosmopolitan critic Taylor Andrews said the drama “romanticizes an extremely toxic relationship, which is never okay.”

More than 50,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling “365 Days” to be pulled from Netflix for “glorifying Stockholm syndrome and abuse.”  

“For Netflix to make a movie glorifying sex slavery is not only in bad taste, but it continues to perpetuate sexual stereotypes of women being treated as property and sexual conquests, as well as promoting Stockholm Syndrome,” the petition says. 

Michele Morrone attends the Bar Giuseppe red carpet during the 14th Rome Film Festival on October 18, 2019 in Rome, Italy.

The petition adds that the film passes off abuse as a “steamy and sexy love story” to “impressionable teens.” The hashtag #365days has over 1.4 billion views on TikTok, where users have shared videos fantasizing about being kidnapped and showing off bruises after insinuating they have replicated scenes from the film. 

“These scenes are being watched by millions of impressionable teens and young adults wanting to learn about intimacy,” the petition says. “Except this isn’t intimacy, this is an assault served to us on a silver platter.”

Despite the overwhelming criticism, “356 Days” has evoked a cult following across social media, with some calling it a “must watch.”

“So um, has anyone seen 365 days on Netflix? Cause whewww,” @marialaguerita tweeted, which a meme of someone fanning themselves. User @EpperlyRaye recommended, “If u haven’t watch 365 days on Netflix, u need (to).”

USA TODAY reached out to Netflix for comment. 

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