'365 Days' - Glorification, Fantasy, & Bad Storytelling
The following post contains spoilers
I'm always up for an interesting film. My preferred method of experiencing a film is by knowing literally nothing about it at all. The less I know the better, #tameimpala
In this day and age, it's almost impossible to watch a film without first knowing almost everything it entails. I hate trailers, they always, ALWAYS, give too much away and make me feel like I've watched the whole film.
My girlfriend and I are opposites with respect to the scrolling of Netflix. I'm the kind of person who's likely to just hit play on something, yet she will scroll for ages, hit an image that has some sense of familiarity, read the description, assess the runtime, and watch the entire trailer before deciding if it's worth her time. Which in its own respect, is absolutely fair enough, but I think the reason she's unlikely to ever settle on something, is because the trailer fulfills the description, and doesn't leave enough open questions that warrant watching the film to answer. What she can succumb to however, is that dreaded clickbait...and that's nothing negative, we all fall for it sometimes.
She found an article, or a comment stream, or something, that she expressed to me in the car on the way to work one day; 'Apparently this film 365 Days is said to glorify rape' she says, 'this guy kidnaps a woman and tries to stockholm syndrome her into falling in love with him, and gives her 365 days to do so' right, ok...'but people are saying it glorifies rape culture, and it's emotionally abusive'. Sign me up...Not in a perverse way, but I'm a sucker for anything that explores the dark parts of the human psyche.
Long story short...This has got to be, easily, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the absolute worst films I have ever seen in my entire life.
There are several things at play in that statement, and maybe, perhaps largely, because even though I avoid trailers due to the missetting of expectations, these statements from social media have also had an equal impact. Yet at the same time, I stand by, that this is a horribly made film, that lost so much potential.
This is what I expected based on what I had heard...A psychological thriller, that saw a woman mentally broken down to a position where she was manipulated into thinking a certain way. A psychopathic, intelligent, and charismatic man who is meticulous in his execution and knows exactly how to make this happen. I expected a deliberate, calculated narrative that made me feel like I could understand how the victim fell prey to his methods.
What I got, was a series of pornographic music videos amidst a prolonged soap opera akin to 'Neighbours'.
Were my expectations misguided, did the clickbait lead me to think a certain way, did my girlfriends interpretation of what she had read, lead her to cherry pick bits she knew would appeal to my interests? Who knows...All I know, is that this film is trash, and a good example of how not to tell a story.
We begin with a meeting of Italian Mafia officials, one of them is assassinated, and his son is wounded from the gunshot. In his near death experience, he believes himself to see a woman he had spied on a beach prior to the meeting, up close. Years pass, and he comes across this woman, whom he considers to be the very literal 'woman of his dreams'. She, a clearly strong, independent woman in a high paying corporate position, who's boyfriend has apparently lost interest in her, and fails to offer her much attention.
These two people cross paths, and in the guys delusion, he kidnaps her, and tells her about his near death experience and how he had seen her. He lays it out plain, and says he will give her 365 days to fall in love with him, if she doesn't, he will let her go. Seems fair, I guess?
Day 1 - She's angry, scared, confused, apprehensive. She tries to escape, but conveniently has some mysterious heart condition that makes her pass out when stressed, which ultimately has her back locked in her 5 star bed chamber by the time she comes around. She's told that tomorrow will be a good day where she can use her captors money to go shopping, and in the evening they will go to a club.
Day 2 - A shopping spree, montaged, she's frivolously spending this guys money, shopping around Italy with mafia bodyguards to carry all her bags. She's embracing it, and at one point, runs away and finds Polizia...But they don't understand her (she's Polish you see), and this guy apparently owns all of Italy anyway. They go to the club, donning her newly bought garments she acts out, and flirts with other men to try and piss him off, one man gets a bit grabby and forceful, and leads to his off screen murder.
Day 3 - We're on a boat now mother fuckers. He's angry at her for 'making him kill a man'. She's stressed, she tries to run away, and comedically falls off the boat. I guess her heart problem kicks in, because he 'saves her life'. When she comes around, he asks the most poignant question; "Why are you so disobedient?". She swoons over him because he saved her life, and then she sucks his dick, and there's a full on 4 minute segment set to music of them fucking all over the boat.
It kind of just descends into chaos from there.
The entirety of the film takes place over 2 months, and yes, she apparently does fall in love with him. In the portrayal they have laid out, it's completely unrealistic.
Ok, so, this is probably just girl porn...I get that in some respects this is basically some sort of female sexual fantasy being played out, and maybe that is all this film is, live action chick-lit that I'm just looking far too deeply into, and that I just don't understand from a male perspective.
Albeit, my girlfriends interest had switched off long before we hit the first hard sex scene, but me being me, I had to see it through, at the expense of me feeling more and more disappointed and aggravated.
In terms of storytelling, I just can't wrap my head around it. She's presented as being a strong independent woman at the beginning, and we are to believe she is broken down within 3 days????
In this generation of empowerment there is no way in hell that this is feasible, and I feel that cinema in general these days has to try harder with its storytelling as society has become more complex and intricate as time progresses. Perhaps this would have been considered rational in the early 20th century, but certainly not now.
What angers me the most is that I feel conceptually this film had so much potential to show us a dark part of humanity, that in some parts of the world may very well be incredibly real. Yet cancel culture wants us to shy away from this stuff when it's too real. 'You can't show that, it glorifies a socially debased function', ok, fine, but does avoiding it make it go away? No.
What if creating art that delves really fucking deep into these things actually gives potential prosecutors a different view that makes them think twice before committing an act? What if, in the interest of art imitating life, these expressionist windows into criminal, torturous, behaviour actually gives life and weight to movements against it in reality? It's important to explore these things in fiction just as much as factually. It can offer new perspectives, increase understanding, and in some cases express personal trauma in a way that helps us understand a more specific viewpoint.
This film could have done that, but it doesn't, and some people feel that this glorifies rape culture...I disagree. On the grounds that this film is not good enough, not written or executed well enough to glorify it, because it is not realistic.
I do believe that there are powerful independent women out there who are broken down psychologically, and emotionally manipulated into mental corners where they feel they have no option but to behave a certain way and do certain things against their rational judgement.
I do not believe that these women succumb to these notions within 3 days, due to the luxury of a shopping trip and some clubbing.
To glorify it, is to make it seem like something that is the right thing to do, and that you would be morally and socially accepted for the actions you commit. My concern with the whole issue of glorification is that it infers that the people who view this stuff can't differentiate between right and wrong. You're only offended by it because you've had a bad experience or you're worried that people will watch it and mimic the actions they see, and of course it's important to spread awareness of these things so potential future victims can spot red flags, but were this film to have been done well, it would only make it more important in that respect, not glorified.
You can say the same for anything; that 'Die Hard' equally glorifies the hostile takeover of a high-rise office block for the sake of capital gain.
You can argue that 'Inside Man' glorifies the notion of bank robberies.
'The Godfather' glorifies being a gangster.
'The Dark Knight' glorifies vigilantism.
'Back to the Future' glorifies incest.
'American History X' glorifies racism.
You'll look at those titles and think 'what the fuck', but it all depends on perspective, and depending on the angle you look at it from, you can absolutely make an argument for those things, but nobody does, because they're widely accepted as good films due to their excellent execution and focus points.
As 365 Days went on, I just got more and more angry at how nonsensical it seemed to me. It just didn't seem believable that someone of her personality would fall prey to such basic attempts of, for sake of a better term, manipulation.
I felt throughout, that this film could have been so good. For a 2 hour runtime, they could have taken their time to really go deep into a breakdown of the psyche. Taking a confident high powered woman, and breaking her self esteem and fortitude down into dust to then bring it back through thinly veiled affection. They really could have researched the effects and methods of stockholm syndrome and shown us how it worked, and scared us with its execution.
But instead - Here's a good looking guy throwing money around, oh look, they're fucking, to an atrocious pre-teen playlist.
Not to mention they called it '365 Days' and set everything across 2 months, and funny how her heart condition knocks her out when she tries to run away, but not when she's having the most intense sex of her life...
There are better films on PornHub.