Bliss: The BRWC Review. By Hugues Porquier.
Bliss is a film by Mike Cahill, mainly known for two films “Another Earth” and “I Origins” which both won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the 2011 and 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It will be released on February 5, 2021 on the Amazon Prime Video platform.
It’s an Amazon Original film, so it will join films such as ‘Sound Of Metal’ or ‘One Night in Miami’. Amazon Original continues to grow, with the goal of being able to compete with Netflix and its original productions. We can find big names such as Owen Wilson (Inherent Vice, Hall Pass and a large part of Wes Anderson’s films) as well as Salma Hayek (Frida, Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn).
We also find a scenario with ambition and very good ideas, which will surely be compared to Matrix for example. Mike Cahill, accustomed to science fiction movies, has everything to make a great film with experienced actors and an interesting script.
In Bliss, we follow Greg (Owen Wilson), a forty-year-old man trapped in a dull life within an impersonal bureaucracy where personal initiatives and dreams are not encouraged. He finds himself dreaming of a completely different life through his drawings, a colorful life by the sea with a beautiful woman. This dream life is an escape for Greg.
He will be fired for these drawings and his lack of assiduity at work, his life will be totally turned upside down by this dismissal. He will quickly meet Isabel (Salma Hayek), an eccentric woman who seems to be full of secrets. She will persuade Greg that he is living inside a simulation, and that a very small number of people are “real”.
Then we will discover the world of Isabel, who lives like an outcast under a bridge, and who has been waiting for Greg’s arrival for a long time. She sees him as her soulmate, with whom she has already shared her life in the real world for many years. At the same time we also follow Greg’s daughter Emely (played by Nesta Marlee Cooper), who is trying to find her father for whom she is worried.
In order to prove that what she says is true, Isabel will introduce Greg to the ‘real world’, outside of the simulation. In this world, free from poverty, Greg and Isabel are a couple, have a beautiful house and live in a dream location next to the sea. The same place that was depicted in Greg’s drawings. A struggle between these two worlds will emerge. Between the love of a daughter who is not supposed to be real and who lives in a dull world and the love of his wife who lives in an ideal world.
Although the original idea of Bliss is really interesting, we might remain a little dissatisfied with the presentation and the development of the two worlds. Which is not sufficiently accomplished in either case. Indeed, on the one hand it’s difficult to grasp the issues involved in the ideal world, we remain in the dark about the situation in this world.
In the other world “the dull one”, the presentation of Greg’s family is not enough, we would like to know more about his life and his past. The interesting point of the film is that we can’t really be quite sure that Greg isn’t imagining the whole story, and that the shock of being fired has made him lose his mind. This would make more sense for his daughter behavior, who, seeing her father go down, tries to bring him back to reality.
In view of these negative points, we can regret that the script has not been adapted into a series. In which the stakes and characters could have been further developed. This film allows us to see that Amazon is now able to bring together major actors in its productions. We can also see this with for example Riz Ahmed in “Sound Of Metal” or Orlando Bloom in “Carnival Row”. The competition with Netflix in the coming years will be tough. Won’t this rivalry between the two giants, coupled with the health context, lead to the gradual disappearance of a more classical cinema?
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