365 Days heads to Netflix after titillating the Polish box office into submission
by Marta Bałaga
- Advertised by its distributor as “the first Polish erotic film”, Barbara Białowąs and Tomasz Mandes’ movie follows “the first Polish slasher” onto the streaming platform as the pandemic rages on
Following its theatrical release, 365 Days, the adaptation of the best-selling, if somewhat controversial, novels by Blanka Lipińska, was seen by 454,000 viewers in its first weekend, marking the best opening of 2020 so far. It ultimately attracted an audience of over 1.6 million before the cinemas were closed owing to the COVID-19 scare. “You can definitely talk about the effect of the books,” co-director Barbara Białowąs admitted to Cineuropa, crediting their popularity as “the foundation of its box-office success”. “There are many such examples in cinema, from the Harry Potter [franchise] to Game of Thrones. That being said, our script focused on the strongest parts of the book, as filming everything would have translated to ten boring hours of film. In addition, such a result would not have been possible without the right cast, as both Michele Morrone and Anna Maria Sieklucka created characters that viewers fell in love with,” she said, also highlighting the work of cinematographer Bartek Cierlica.
Białowąs, who directed the movie with Tomasz Mandes, didn’t care much for the “Polish Fifty Shades of Grey” label, often mentioned after the premiere in February. “For me, personally, this film was not a reference point at all. But I was aware that such comparisons – already voiced after Blanka Lipińska’s novels were published – would come up, so I watched it out of professional duty. These two stories are ultimately very different, and we decided to focus on making our own, autonomous film.” It shows a young mobster, Massimo, taking over the family business after his father’s demise and falling for a successful sales director, Laura, whom he then decides to kidnap, giving her 365 days to fall in love with him or he will set her free. The feature has been greeted with less-than-positive reviews in its native Poland, with critics calling it “a naïve fairy tale perpetuating sexist stereotypes” (Filmweb, translation by Cineuropa) or accusing it of “having no intellectual ambitions” (Gazeta Wyborcza).
After its April addition, the film was revealed as the most-watched title on Netflix Poland. “Mainstream cinema is sometimes treated as a lesser sister of arthouse,” said Białowąs. “I understand that to some extent. But now, during the pandemic, people need something light – they want to break free from all the sadness that the world is experiencing. Which is what 365 Days provides – it gives them an escape,” she noted. “Demanding, existential cinema is not always what the viewer is looking for. However, one does not necessarily exclude the other, and they can function simultaneously for the benefit of both sides, and with respect for the viewer and for cinema. Since the very beginning, there has always been entertainment and arthouse cinema, and there is no point in arguing about such a division or breaking down these doors. Erotic cinema was, is and will be here to stay.”
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