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Bliss Movie Review - A Science-Fiction Without Alluring Science Or Fiction

Mike Cahill's Bliss sans ecstasy makes for a befuddled viewing. 


Bliss, starring Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek as Greg Wittle and Isabel Clemens respectively, does not really open with bliss. For now, the paradise exists in Greg's drawings, which are scattered on his office table. The office itself is jammed with commotion. Phones keep on ringing, and the workers keep on babbling. Greg is unaffected by this disturbance. His boss is asking for his presence, but he keeps on delaying. The secretary constantly reminds him, "Bjorn wants to see you." Greg repeatedly defers, "Okay, I'll be right there." Greg is not feeling right from the inside. His thoughts are disoriented. The first visual cue that highlights the abnormality of the situation comes when Greg leaves his room: The wallet on his table flickers. 

Furthermore, when Bjorn (Steve Zissis) fires Greg, he seemingly spaces out. When the consciousness returns, it is followed by a shocking accident. Bjorn dies, and Greg hides the body on a window behind a curtain. More strangeness follows as Greg leaves the building. In unison, the entire staff speaks the same line, "I'm sorry you're having technical difficulties." In the background, you see the name of the company, which happens to be TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES. We are not done yet. Weirdness further increases when Greg meets Isabel in a bar where she reveals that none of the other people around him are "real." These are "fakes" that can be controlled by swallowing a yellow crystal. A bartender, for example, can be "zipped," or a plate can be flipped. This world is a simulation, and only real people like Greg and Isabel can't be controlled by others. 

Director Mike Cahill had earlier made the 2011 sci-fi Another Earth (I loved it), followed by the 2014 sci-fi romantic drama I Origins (I have not seen it). In Another Earth, an Earth-like planet comes closer and closer to our Earth. But the film did not stand on this scientific phenomenon. Instead, it followed a teen girl and her experience after a fatal car accident. If you have not watched Another Earth, you should because (1) it is thought-provoking and (2) displays Cahill in his finest form. Bliss, on the other hand, has traces of the genius Cahill lost in the maze of the crowded dystopia. 

Extending his ambition to the furthest, Cahill tries touching on both the human and the fiction aspect of his story. In his attempts to amalgamate the two, he fails to properly reach for even one of the aspects. Bliss wants us to contemplate in awe, but we end up asking questions like "what?" and "why?" Cahill may not be interested in logistics or logic. He may not even want you to look for it. However, that's the only thing that primarily occupies your thoughts while watching Bliss. This issue does not arise in the viewing of Another Earth (lo, one more reason to watch that film). Bliss deals with weighty themes like accepting our reality, not indulging in the pleasures of make-believe conceptions, and making sacrifices for your loved ones. All these elements are devoid of a satisfying arc and an exciting story. The characters exist in a void, without dimensions. Greg and Isabel remained strangers to me. If bliss is present anywhere, it's in the title.         

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from Movie Reviews https://moviesinmydna.blogspot.com/2021/02/bliss-movie-review-science-fiction.html
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