Sunday, July 10, 2022


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Mike Cahill
Starring: Owen Wilson, Salma Hayek, Nesta Cooper, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Ronny Chieng, Steve Zissis, Joshua Leonard, Madeline Zima, Bill Nye
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
Watch it on Amazon Prime

Synopsis and Review:
Director Mike Cahill who has made a name for himself collaborating with actress/writer Brit Marling on the features "Another Earth" and "I Origins" is back, once again tackling a mind bending concept of a story. The narrative focuses on Greg Wittle, whom we first witness being fired from his job, in a situation that quickly escalates to something much worse. Looking to flee the scene, he goes to a nearby bar, where he catches the attention of Isabel, who starts telling him some of the people in the bar, and whom he has been crossing paths with, are not real (she also knows what has just happened with him). She also mentions she can help him and get him out of the trouble he currently is. Greg follows Isabel to where she lives on the streets, and they soon forge a relationship. Isabel also introduces Greg to some yellow crystals, which allow him to manipulate reality telekinetically. While the both of them get involved in some altercations, Greg's daughter is desperately trying to locate him, so he can come to her graduation, and patch up their relationship. Looking to prove what reality actually is, Isabel uses blue crystals on her and Greg, and they wake up connected to a massive computer, alongside several other people. Greg is informed that the has in reality been experiencing a simulation within a Brain Box, something that has been created by Isabel to study alternate realities. As elements of the simulation start invading their reality, Isabel suggests they need to go back into the simulation and take more blue crystals, in order to fully exit it.
"Bliss" is an interesting concept of a film, where what is real and what is a simulation is never quite properly established. The director manages to create a strong enough case for both contexts/realities to make them fairly believable, however where the story never gels is in the lead characters themselves. Isabel acts as someone in control in both realities, but it's never really clear who she actually is (she's either a doctor doing some innovative research, or a homeless person with substance abuse problems, but we never know more than that about her). With Greg the issue is fairly similar, we understand he has had family issues, his children are somewhat alienated from him, and then he quickly forms a bond and relationship with Isabel. The characters remain cryptic for the entire narrative, and while their adventures are fairly compelling, the film fails to bring both humor and an actual sense of urgency/danger to what is occurring (what is it in fact that they potentially face losing). It has a tremendous amount of potential in concept, but it fails to materialize into something more than that. The cast is solid, with Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek embodying these characters with assuredness. While unbalanced, it's still worth watching.