“Bliss is a fantastic film, full of surprises, great sci-fi elements, two brilliant performances, and every emotion. It’s a home-run.”
It’s been seven long years since writer/director Mike Cahill delivered a feature film that stunned audiences over the world, but now he’s back with a brand new tale in Bliss, starring Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek that follows this duo on a thrilling, sci-fi entanglement of different realities and romance, where everyone will look at life a little differently once the credits roll. Bliss is a great new addition to the Cahill universe as he continues to be a purveyor of original content and science-fiction with a purpose, along with getting some top-notch performances from Wilson and Hayek. Bliss is a pure winner for cinema.
Cahill has always had a knack for telling stories that feel very personal and intimate (Another Earth and I, Origins), while at the same time feeling grande in scope on a major universal science-fiction level. This rings true for Bliss as well as he steps into another realm with futuristic elements. The film follows Greg (Wilson), who seems to be having a rough day both at his job and at home. After he swallows his meds and hears unfortunate news from his boss, an accident occurs that leads Greg to the local pub for a drink where he runs into Isabel (Hayek), who has supernatural telekinetic powers, much like a Jedi. Isabel knows everything about Greg and tells him she can make things better for him if he trusts her. From here, the two head to her place, which is a homeless encampment, where she tells Greg they need to score some kind of crystal to leave this horrific reality and back to their paired life together in the real world that is a mirrored image, but instead of chaos and ugliness, it’s a pure utopia or what the title implies – Bliss.
Working with themes brought up in The Matrix, Total Recall, and even Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Inception, Cahill weaves these brilliant characters in and out of these worlds and showcases their struggling emotions to figure out what exactly bliss could be – whether it be living the high life on a mountainside, overlooking a coastal city with fine libations and beautiful people, or simply being with those who love you at rock bottom – no matter how much pain there is. It’s here where Cahill gets to explore the deeper meaning of a relationship and someone’s struggle with an illness. It’s quite fantastic to watch unfold on-screen as both Isabel and Greg seem to head down two completely different paths in seeing their true self and views on the world.
This master-work of filmmaking has some excellent sequences that not only forward these character’s story arcs and storyline but also have a fine technical achievement as well, including a fantastic sequence inside a roller-skating rink with some excellent stuntwork that will garner some big laughs. Cahill also hides some easter eggs throughout the film as Isabel and Greg work to figure out which reality is real, which all culminates to something similar with that spinning top at the end of Inception. It’s really remarkable.
Will Bates’ score only enhances each sequence in this dreamlike fantasy state with all of the perfect and dangerous cues that come with the territory. It’s hypnotic and rock n’ roll at the same time. Bliss is a fantastic film, full of surprises, great sci-fi elements, two brilliant performances, and every emotion. It’s a home-run.
Written by: Bryan Kluger