The Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s favourite Netflix movie is about sex
I never imagined there would come a day when I would get to see a Polish film trending number 1 in Pakistan. However, I’m also not surprised that the Polish version of 50 Shades of Grey did end up achieving this milestone. The day 365 Days came out, I knew it would trend in the top 10.
But you see Ertugrul had been trending on Pakistan’s Netflix for weeks and as the country is obsessed with the Turkish show and had even erected statues in honour of it, I was a bit doubtful about 365 Days getting that number 1. Oh, how naive I was. I really underestimated the Pakistani awaam. Because really, it doesn’t take much more than a half naked woman on a poster for Pakistanis to start watching a film.
Is there more to the film than what meets the eye?
I saw the film in hopes of finding a more cinematic and creative reason for why the film is trending. Because the enunciated sex and the nudity can’t be the only reasons why Pakistanis are watching it. It is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan where women are respected above everything! So, I had to know why 365 Days was able to even top PM Imran Khan’s favourite TV show.
365 Days is a love story between an Italian gangster and a Polish girl. It all starts when Massimo (Micheal Morrone) bumps into Laura (Anna-Maria Siekluca) one night in Sicily. They have never met before, but Massimo has had images of her face flashing across his mind, with a large painting of her face in his house, and is convinced that she is his lover, or something like that. So, dumps his girlfriend and pursues her, in what I suppose is supposed to be a romantic relationship, though it’s far from it. As is the normal way, he kidnaps her, holds her hostage, telling her that if she isn’t in love with him in 365 days, she is free to go. But to no one’s surprise they fall in love and make love in an explicit 4 minute scene on a yacht off at sea, till danger strikes. (And I believe this is exactly what the audience had expected when they clicked on the film’s poster)
The characters because they’re important… or usually are
Massimo is an Italian gangster and that is his only personality trait. But he’s got more character depth than Laura because he at least has a profession. Laura is … a Polish something. They barely invest in her career apart from that one time after her kidnapping, when she is back in Poland getting her hair done she gets a call about some promotion and she celebrates. But then it’s never brought up again.
Perhaps the reason why 365 Days is trending is because of the idea of consent and a woman’s sexuality
The relatively virginal first half (yes you’ll have to wait for the sexy bit. Just keep patient) is perched on the second half that just seems never-ending. But then again what more can you expect from a film featuring two beautiful people doing unspeakable things to each other. The film sputters to boredom in between, which makes perfect sense- the film is designed as a quest for sex, not a quest for meaning or narrative. So if you were looking for a narrative there, don’t. Just don’t. But don’t let that disappoint you yet. There are better ways to frontline sex without doing away with a story altogether, however there’s also no point in berating an erotica for being an erotica just because its meaningless.
The kind of consent Pakistani’s know and love
There’s this odd tension with consent in the film where he tells her he won’t do anything to her without her permission, but as he is saying this, he is grabbing onto her breasts and she’s visibly shaking under. Even later on he says that he is the one ordering her lingerie and so he decides when he wants to see it. Not only is he dictating what she wears, acts that need consent don’t seem to need consent for some reason.
I understand that they wanted to make a film on Stockholm Syndrome and how power dynamics can be warped in certain spaces but they just couldn’t translate that onto screen. The film has this pretense of equality, where he in exchange of her making him delicate (his words, not mine) he will give her pleasure and leisure.
The problem with this kind of consent
With certain power-dynamics consent can get muddy, and that is always interesting to look at cinematically because morality is at stake. But here the man is clearly only virtue-signalling. He wants to be known as a man who respects consent, while simultaneously destroying it. And we are not supposed to question this because he is sculpted by the gods, with privates that are sculpted by the devil (her words, not mine).
It’s not only Pakistani’s that were swept away by the film
365 Days is topping the Trending Section on Netflix across the globe, after a successful box-office run in Poland, and has spawned TikTok reaction videos (172 million video views for the #365Days hashtag). So, the Pakistani’s who feel like they’ve been called out while viewing forbidden things, you’re not alone. The world is with you because I guess good sex forgives all. And who even needs a good plot with character development when you’ve got two beautiful people engaging in a problematic and toxic relationship.
You can watch the film on Netflix if you haven’t already.