To be completely candid here, I’m not really sure what Director Mike Cahill is trying to say or where he is going with “BLISS”, his latest feature coming out on Amazon Prime this Friday, February 5th. In an already overcrowded movie fueled month, along with it being Black History Month, I’ve a feeling this one just isn’t going to find it’s footing with too many audiences. It has a lot of difficulty focusing on what it is Cahill is actually going for. Let me try to explain.
First off, all we can be sure of our lead character is that Greg Wittle (Owen Wilson) is newly divorced and that he misses his family, most particularly his daughter Emily (Nesta Cooper), who is worried about him. His son Arthur (Jorge Lendenborg Jr.), on the other hand, doesn’t seem to care one bit about him or what happens to him in the slightest. We see Greg at work at a seemingly high profile job, yet he’s spends his day drawing pictures of what he envisions as the ‘perfect world’ along with drawings of a woman. Because of this silliness we also see Greg lose his job and end up at the bar across the street where some very odd, crazy things begin to happen.
Enter in Isabel Clemons (Salma Hayek), who seems to know everything there is to know about Greg Wittle in a almost stalker type way, yet he loves this odd fact. She presents herself as the solution to his problems and begins to tell him some fantastical stories that most of the people he sees and the situations he’s in, aren’t real. She tells him over and over that they are just simulations of people/places and simply through the power of his mind, he can make them do all sorts of crazy things like fall down or crash as they are just in his head. He falls for it and they seem to both think hurting others for fun is well…fun. So it seems like they are sadly both just lost in a fantastical world of severe mental health issues and using a specially ‘formulated’ drug as escapism. Except then we find them inside the actual drawings of Greg’s in a whole other Science Fiction type world where they are the actual creators of an alternative society and add in Bill Nye the Science Guy as actual proof of what they have discovered is profound. And that’s the problem here. This film is ALL over the place with itself.
Honestly, you can watch “Bliss” in a number of ways:
Example #1. You can assume that everything Isabel And Bill Nye are saying is true, and then this is a story about parallel worlds.
Example #2. You can see this as a story about the plight of human mental health issues and why so many turn to drugs to find refuge in said fantastical fantasy story also presented.
Example #3. You can even see “Bliss” as an account of how easy it is for the average person anywhere in the world, to fall out of our society norms and end up lost and homeless due to no fault of their own.
In whichever way you choose to see it is your call, but my call is that pretty much all of them won’t be that great and unfortunately, ‘Bliss’ just never comes across anything even remotely profound, as it’s so jumbled and pasted together in a completely non-coherent manner. All the different stories it tries to tell all fizzle out, and the ending is wholly predictable to a shocking degree. The acting performances are just as bizarrely put out there, with only Cooper coming through as a decent performance in this all-over-the-place feature.
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Review screening: Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR
“BLISS” WILL BE STREAMING ON AMAZON PRIME – FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2021