Greg (Owen Wilson) is flailing after losing his job, getting a divorce, and struggling to maintain a relationship with his daughter, Emily (Nesta Cooper). Then he meets a mysterious woman in a bar named Isabel (Salma Hayek) who is seemingly homeless. She tries to convince Greg that the dark, corrupt world they’re living in isn’t real. Greg struggles to believe her until they start to manipulate the world around them together, and Isabel takes him to a bright, sunny utopia. But the question remains, which is the real world?
‘Bliss’ recalls ‘Vanilla Sky’ (starring Tom Cruise and Penélope Cruz) or series like ‘The OA’ in its themes, look, and exploration of existential themes. Heck, even ‘Wandavision’ has dived into this whole idea of multiple universes. But where sometimes such concepts prove intriguing and inspire emotion, they can fall flat and just seem aimless and conceited. ‘Bliss’ is just that.
The dark, grey cinematography of the supposed “computer simulation” versus the colourful, illuminated appearance of the “real world” is embarrassing on the nose. One struggles to care for or relate to the two leads played by Wilson and Hayek as they strive to hurt people and just seem boring. One supposes that in order for these texts that explore existentialism to work you have to care about the characters. But ‘Bliss’ relies on you buying the love story between Greg and Isabel, when the actors share no chemistry.
Then there’s the whole question of are these people just having a psychotic breakdown, turning to increasingly dangerous drugs to deal with the corruption and sadness of the world? It’s difficult to really feel concerned as the film is so ridiculous, and moreover, super confusing. It would be upsetting if it wasn’t so repulsive, and the film is so up its own hole it’s a wonder the sun features in the movie at all.
As you don’t have a clue what’s going on, or what any of it means, one simply disconnects entirely in the end. Its conclusion is stupid and ambiguous, and not profound or touching, as it purports to be, in any way. It’s actually just really, really annoying.
'Bliss' is streaming on Amazon Prime from February 5.