Polish Cinema: 365 Days (Barbara Bialowas/Tomasz Mandes, 2020, Poland)

365 Days (365 Dni) has become undoubtedly the most-watched Polish film of all time. This erotic drama from directors Barbara Bialowas and Tomasz Mandes, adapted from a 50 Shades-inspired erotic trilogy, has shot to the top 10 in almost all Netflix countries since its premiere on the platform. As the film is perhaps the closest thing to porn on Netflix, this is not all that surprising. Still, I thought it was worth taking a look at this film as a mass-market Polish cultural export.
Regrettably, there is very little to recommend about the film, which is kind of a modern day take on of the erotic dramas of “Skinemax” in the 1990s. From the stilted performances, wooden dialogue, and awful pervasive soundtrack of crappy songs, 365 Days is a non-stop parade of cringe-inducing moments. The plot is effectively a modern-day version of Beauty and the Beast, with a Sicilian mafioso kidnapping a Polish woman and giving her 365 days to fall in love with him. While the Italian scenery is pleasant to look at it, it is shot with the flair of a 1990s music video. 
While the sexual politics of the film are regressive in the extreme, there is something almost charming in the film’s blatant disregard for the cultural zeitgeist. The film makes no pretense to good taste or political correctness. In the tradition of all good bad movies, 365 Days lacks any kind of self-awareness. One gets the sense that the entire team felt like they were making a great film. It is perhaps regrettable that this film will be most people’s first and only exposure to Polish cinema. While I could feel myself losing brain cells while watching this film, I nevertheless managed to make it through the whole thing. I suppose that is an achievement.



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