• 05 Jun - 11 Jun, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Owen Wilson plays Greg, a recently divorced sad-sack who’s devoted to his grown daughter, Emily (Nesta Cooper). He spends most of his time at work mindlessly drawing idyllic scenes on notepads, and when he’s repeatedly summoned to see his boss, he instead takes time to call the pharmacy to get his latest prescription renewed. When he does finally drag himself to the meeting, he’s promptly fired. And then he accidentally kills his boss.

And that’s not even the strangest thing that happens to him that day. Drowning his sorrows in a bar, he meets a mysterious woman, Isabel (Salma Hayek), who latches on to him with obvious romantic interest. She’s homeless, and has magical powers of telekinesis, which she demonstrates to Greg that he has as well. She takes him roller skating, during which both have a fine time wreaking physical havoc and knocking people off their feet with the mere wave of a finger. He doesn’t have to worry that they’re actually hurting anyone, she assures him, since everything around them is merely a computer simulation.

Normally, to reveal what happens next would count as a spoiler. But since it’s all shown in the trailer, all bets are off. Greg suddenly wakes up, sporting a much better haircut, in a modernistic laboratory. It’s all been part of a scientific experiment conducted by Isabel, who also looks remarkably more kempt. It turns out that Greg is a scientist as well, having invented a “thought visualiser” device.

Not surprisingly, Greg is quite confused by all this, not quite sure what is reality and what is not. Greg’s doubts are furthered by the admonition of another scientist who advises him that serious questions have come up about Isabel’s research.

For all the intellectual questions this puzzle-game of a film raises, it fails to engage on an emotional level. We never care about the relationship between Greg and Isabel in whatever world they’re in. A subplot involving Emily’s desperate efforts to find her missing father feels extraneous.

Bliss boasts admirable technical elements, including well-conceived production design and cinematography that expertly delineate the two very different worlds the main characters inhabit. But for all the film’s imagination, it’s hard not to think that we’ve been down this Matrix-like road before. You find yourself wondering why Greg doesn’t simply take the red pill.

– Compilation