‘The Next 365 Days’ Reviews

‘The Next 365 Days’ Reviews

A once-proudly awful idea is reduced to a weak love triangle between extremely uninteresting hotties in the third instalment of Netflix’s idiotic Polish bonkfest.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been shockingly repealed, as least insofar as film critics are concerned — a mere 114 days has elapsed between Barbara Białowas and Tomasz Mandes’ two sequels to their 2020 Netflix-busting softcore phenom, “365 Days.” So just a few scant months after “365 Days: This Day” left us in a swirl of Steadicam and a hail of bullets, here’s “The Next 365 Days,” returning viewers and lovers of the series to Laura (Anna-Maria Sieklucka) and Massimo (Michele Morrone), the streaming era’s favourite oversexed, underdressed rape-apologist pair, and their lightly kink-dusted sensual exploits. A wonderful moment to be alive.

Given that the third movie optimistically anticipates that we will remember what happened in the second, beyond the existence of an evil twin, a scorchingly hot gardener named Nacho (Simone Sussina), and a funny final gunfight, the window is actually a blessing. — and therefore to be mildly taken in by the fake-out beginning. As Massimo, her hulking mafioso kidnapper-husband, cries at a gravestone obscured by his ludicrously broad shoulders (straining at a jacket that, as always with Piotr Koncki’s costume design, walks a dangerous line between being tailored to a sculptural tightness, and simply being a little bit too small), we are teased once more with the possibility of little ninny Laura’s While looking for a wedding dress, Olga (Magdalena Lamparska), a pair of luxury sunglasses with a human attached, laments about missing her bestie Laura: Domenico, Massimo’s consignee (Otar Saralidze), and she are now engaged.

These are the astronomical stakes of “The Next 365 Days”: Should Laura be with Massimo or Nacho? One wants to ball her in the Mediterranean, the other wants “to meditate with her in Bali.” Tomasz Mandes and Mojca Tirš, co-writing with the books’ author Blanka Lipinska, already distanced “This Day” from the original film’s queasy rapiness, but now seem eager to engineer a full 180. Given the ultra-sensitive, ribbed-for-her-pleasure alternative offered by Nacho, also a mafia boss but one who surfs and has unambiguously consensual candlelit beachside sex, Laura is finally working out that maybe the guy who kidnapped and sexually enslaved her and now jealously monitors her every move is not the prince she Stockholmed herself into believing he was. It took three movies, a failing mafia marriage, getting shot, a lost pregnancy, a car crash and the patient, undying affections of an even hotter, even richer guy, but whatever. Go feminism.

It’s not just the plotting that feels bone-tired this time out. The design departments seem underslept too: the outfits are ho-hum, even those at the atelier Laura sometimes remembers she runs. The al fresco dining areas and nightclub scenes during which Olga’s evident full-blown alcoholism is constantly played for klutzy laughs, are entirely interchangeable. And once you’ve seen one dramatic sky skidding off the infinity pool of a modernist villa at dusk, you’ve seen ’em all. Furthermore, we’re used to the oddly inflected, non-native English dialogue (“The plane is to your disposal,” “This white shit replaced me”) but now even the bikini-waxed images from franchise DP Bartek Cielica come across as gauzily inattentive. During one would-be dramatic confrontation between Laura and Massimo, it’s hard not to be distracted by the handprints on the glass rooftop railing between them that glint greasily in the lens flare.

Indeed, the only contributors who don’t appear completely tapped out by the end of “The Next 365 Days” are those with arguably the most reason to be. Composers Patryk Kumór and Dominic Buczkowski-Woytaszek pen a Herculean 25 original soft-rock ballads for the soundtrack, many of which play out for a couple of minutes or more, because that’s how much of this movie takes place in slo-mo montage. Granted, the songs are 100% indistinguishable and all the lyrics appear written by the same algorithm that generates the dialogue: Who knows what to make of a sex scene scored to a gravel-voiced chorus of “Fuck society?” Still, 25!

But just because almost everyone’s exhausted by this crummy cash-cow franchise, doesn’t mean the franchise is exhausted in turn. The hope that “The Next 365 Days” will be the last “365 Days” merely because it’s based on the final book is a slim one, especially given how it ends, on a question left infuriatingly dangling, with only a wailing rawk crescendo and a deranged camera doing infinity loops around the two stars for resolution. “I need more time,” Laura husks repeatedly, to Nacho, to Massimo, to Olga and to the warm wind tousling her hair. Though she’s referring to her deeply uninvolving romantic dilemma, it’s hard not to hear her speaking with the wistful voice of the Netflix accountancy department, as they, and they alone, offer up a prayer that there might be many more “365 Days” to come.

Rakhi Kale

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