Bliss, movie (2021) - Film review by KadmonBliss, movie (2021)
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Article updated: 2021.06.26

The Bliss (2021) is a sci-fi / fantasy film. The movie was reviewed by Kadmon.

Product: Bliss, movie (2021)

Original title: Bliss

Series: -

Setting: Earth / future Earth

Product type: Film, Genre: sci-fi / fantasy, Style: sci-fi, fantasy

Release: 2021.02.05

Reviewer: Kadmon, Type: Male, 40s, Preferences: Immersive, logical story, consistent setting, prefers surprises to spoilers, prefers establishing elements before referencing them

Watched: very recent (2021.03), first time

Rating: Average (2 out of 3 points), Enjoyment: Bad (1 out of 3 points)

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This is my review of Bliss, a sci-fi / fantasy movie from 2021. It's about a man meeting with a woman, who shows him the reality of his world. The Bliss film has some interesting concepts and scenes, but it's otherwise boring. I only recommend it to avid fans of the genre.

If you'd like to be surprised by the Bliss film, I don't recommend you to watch the trailer beyond 0:45, because it gives away too much of the plot. It basically provides a summary of the film.

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Review (spoiler-free) - Bliss, movie (2021)

I've read the preview, and I've probably seen the trailer before watching the movie, although I didn't remember anything about those by the time I've started watching.

The Bliss movie is about a man meeting with a woman, who shows him the reality of his world.

The story is not bad, just boring, and it doesn't go anywhere. There might be a character arc, but that depends on your interpretation of the movie. The mystery is not explored, and the romance is unrelatable.

Due to the confusing story, the movie is best viewed on a media you can wind back, and probably being alone or with a very small company, so you won't bother each others experience. A small company is probably recommended, so you'll be able to talk about your own interpretation of the movie.

The cinematography is great. The vistas are nice. It really shows that the creators knew what they wanted to show to the audience. There's some violence.

The characters are not really relatable, they are just are unlikable empty shells. We don't really get to know them, even the main characters, and they just feel distant to me (even though this kind of acting might fit the actual characters the actors depict). The actors play them good, but that still doesn't save the characters. This was a problem, as I didn't really care what will happen to them.

The music was probably okay, I don't remember it.

Bliss is a watchable but boring drama.

My experience

I was not satisfied with Bliss (2021).

Rating: Average (2 out of 3 points). The story of Bliss is confusing, but it is filmed in a professional way.

Enjoyment: Bad (1 out of 3 points). I've lost interest in Bliss multiple times while watching it.

Rewatchability: I'm not sure. I think if you liked the movie for the first time, you might like it for multiple views, either for the vistas, or for the themes.

Chance of watching it again: Nope.

Chance of watching a sequel: It's very unlikely that this movie would get a sequel. But if it did, I might watch it.

Bliss, movie (2021) - Film review by KadmonBliss, movie (2021)
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Will you enjoy this?

If you like mystery movies, you might like Bliss.

If you like stories that play with reality, you might like this movie.

If you like twists, you might enjoy this movie.

If you prefer slow burning, low-key stories, instead of high action epic movies, you might like Bliss.

Watching for plot points

If you are interested in reality bending stories, I think it's worth watching the Bliss movie for the plot points.

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Bliss, movie (2021) - Film review by KadmonBliss, movie (2021)
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Review with spoilers - Bliss, movie (2021)

I didn't like the Bliss movie.

For a confusing movie like this, it would be important to raise interest in the viewers in the fates of the protagonists. The fact that there was no story, wouldn't have caused a problem, if we could have enjoyed the ride. But I don't feel the creators managed to do that, or rather, they managed to create a boring man and a psychopatic woman as the protagonists, neither of whom were I could feel empathy for. (Edit: Other reviewers were able to get interested in the fate of the protagonist, so it might be up to your tastes.)

As they don't have goals, the movie doesn't go anywhere for a while. When we finally get to something happening, and it is revealed that the woman wants to complete the experiment, it still doesn't lead anywhere, and then the movie ends.

It was an interesting concept to explore how would the characters use their magical powers, but this part was also forgotten by the middle of the film.

Glitches can be found throughout the movie, and they are fun easter eggs, but you'll need to be able to stop the movie, and rewind it to be able to check some of them. I would have preferred if they were more easier to catch, more visible, as they are an integral part of the story.

I have one problem with these glitches though - the first one we see is only shown to the audience. By the time it occurs, the man already left the room. So, if the whole thing was just his imagination, why does he imagine things glitching in an empty room? It's probably only there to mislead the viewer, and I consider this an unnecessary addition.

The Safe Harbor rehab clinic or advertisments of it are constantly shown during the film, so the movie builds up to the ending.

The story is boring

The films starts kind of boring. After the first scene (at 7 minutes) I was about to give up, but the creators put a "glitch in the system" into the film, that made it slightly more interesting. This was okay, but not a good start.

At the 1 hour mark, when they got out of the simulation, I started to get bored again.

At 1:30, when they were hiding from the police, it started to get boring again. I just didn't know what to expect, there was no goal and no tension. By that time I already gave up to try to understand the movie.

Cover

The cover of the movie is fine, it shows the basics, but it doesn't spoil the movie.

The trailer

The trailer is basically a substitute for watching the movie. It's a lot more shorter, so it's probably a better way to experience the story.

If you prefer spoilers, it's a great trailer for the Bliss film. If you prefer to avoid spoilers, it will ruin the movie for you.

Promise of the first scene

The man is going to be fired, he will do something about his dream house and his daughter, while getting his medication right. There will be some reality altering element in the story.

Execution: While we got all of these, I'm not sure I really got the movie I wanted from this promise.

Plot summary / Synopsis for the futuristic version

There's a man (Owen Wilson as Greg Wittle), at an office, daydreaming about another life. His daughter (Nesta Cooper as Emily Wittle) calls him, so he'd remember coming to her graduation. His medication runs out, so he tries to get a refill for it, but he is unable to do so. He gets fired due to his daydreaming instead of work. He accidentally knocks his boss out, puts the boss near a window, and escapes from the place.

At a nearby bar, he meets a woman (Salma Hayek as Isabel Clemens), with seemingly magical powers. The woman tells him that he is real, and so is the woman, and the others are not real, they are part of a simulation. She offers to solve his problem, if he gets an amulet from her ex in the toilet. He takes the amulet from an unconscous man, then they take the power crystals from the amulet, and the window suddenly opens, and his boss falls to his death.

They get away to the home of the woman, and they start to live together, in a place shared by homeless people. They wreck together a roller rink, so they steal some clothes and get away from the place, and watch as their other selves get arrested by the police.

Meanwhile, the daughter of the man is trying to find him.

When the man calls his daughter on phone, the woman gets mad at him, so they exit the simulation together.

They get out of a machine. They show him that his daughter is just a simulated personality. The woman, revealed to be his wife, walks him through the futuristic place, that looks like the one the man was daydreaming about. His memory about his real life doesn't come back. When they are at a party, his daughter sees him, but she is warned not to come near him.

She holds an interview with him, where his daughter appears again, but then we are shown that only the man has seen her. Then his daughter gives him power crystals. The man takes the crystal to help the woman get out of the crowd, then the reality starts to crumble around them.

They get back to the simulation. The man sees his boss alive (who was probably reset), so he gets confused. They steal a car, shoot a guy, the police starts to chase them. The woman uses the crystals to exit, while the man runs away. (We don't see the woman any more, she doesn't let him out of the simulation.)

The man goes to a rehab clinic, and says that he believes that his daughter is actually his daughter. Some time later he meets with his daughter.

Plot summary / Synopsis for the down-to-Earth version

There's a lonely man (Owen Wilson as Greg Wittle), at an office, daydreaming about another life with a family. His psychiatric medication runs out, so he imagines a daughter (Nesta Cooper as Emily Wittle) calling him. He tries to get a refill for his medication, but he is unable to do so. He probably gets fired due to his daydreaming instead of work. (But it might be that his regrets about not working make to imagine that.) He imagines to knock his boss out, then escapes from the place.

At a nearby bar, he imagines a woman (Salma Hayek as Isabel Clemens), who looks like the woman of his dream. She sends him to the toilet, where he steals drugs and money from an unconscious man. He imagines that the woman tells him that he is special, while the rest of the people doesn't matter. He takes the drug, and imagines that his boss falls out of the window. Then he gets regrets, and starts to have hallucinations about the police looking for suspects about the death of his boss.

He wanders to a place, where he was lead by the imaginary woman. There he settles, among homeless people, taking the drugs he found in the toilet. He goes to a roller rink, and when he gets aggressive, he starts to push people around. The police arrests him, while he imagines that he was able to evade them.

He imagines that his daughter needs him and she is looking for him. This causes some stress for him, so he takes a stronger drug, acquired by the imaginary woman.

He starts to feel like he lives in the world he imagined in the beginning of the story. He feels great while the dose lasts, but when he takes the previous kind of drug, he starts to have nightmares. His sense of reality is messed up.

The man sees his boss alive, so he gets confused, as he convinced himself that he really fell to his death. He steals a car, and imagines to shoot a guy. The police (or probably imaginary police due to his regrets?) starts to chase him, but he escapes. He is convinced that his imaginary woman left him.

The man goes to a rehab clinic, and says that he believes that his daughter is actually real, showing that he succombs to his imaginary world completely.

The setting

Contemporary Earth.

The setting for the futuristic version

Alternate Earth and future of Earth.

Yellow power crystals give superhuman abilities. Blue crystals make you exit the simulation.

Real world: They've solved our recent problems of pollution and powerty. They can change DNA. They mine asteroids for resources. They automated their factories. They use moving holographic images as a way of communication.

Reality simulation is created by biologically engineered machine, that looks like a connection of multiple human brains.

Bliss, movie (2021) - Film review by KadmonBliss, movie (2021)
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The message of the story

Maybe "Being a homeless drug addict is cool"? It looks to me that the man was having a good time, while he spent most of his time living in a junkyard, and the end also hints that he took drugs during the time.

Another one could be "Get rid yourself of your fantasies". The ending show us that he tries to get clean of his imagination (unless you consider the daughter as being imagined). But I'm not sure the story really wants to tell us that having imagination is bad.

They state two messages in the movie:

"Science saves the world." - This is okay, but it doesn't relate to anything else in the movie.

"You have to experience the good to appreciate the bad." - This is also okay, and it could relate to the story, but it still doesn't. If they wanted to emphasize this, after returning from the good reality to the bad simulation, the man should have felt bad about how bad that simulated world is. But it didn't happen.

The structure of the story

The scenes of the Bliss film are mostly played in sequence, following the same storyline. There are some flashbacks.

It has the usual arc of the dramatic structure - beginning, action, resolution.

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Things I liked

  • I liked the look of the future.

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How does it compare to the other works of the creators?

From the works of the writer / director (Mike Cahill), I've only seen I Origins, that was similarly confusing and pointless as Bliss (although for some reason I gave a better rating to that movie, so it might be somewhat better).

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Bliss, movie (2021) - Film review by KadmonBliss, movie (2021)
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Problems with the story - Bliss, movie (2021)

I was interested in the concept of the story, but a lot of narrative problems prevented me from enjoying Bliss.

Problematic elements

Sudden aggression: When he destroys the roller rink, it seems a bit too sudden for me, with no foundation.

The simulation: If she wanted to have both of them exited the simulation, she could have just exited herself, and make the crew awake the man.

When they only had crystals for one of them to exit, it was boring and long. They played that part as if it was some kind of tragedy, even though we know exactly that only one of them has to exit.

Also, there are lots of exposition about the simulation, and if it's not real (like the ending suggests), then we just spent a lot of time listening to unnecessary information.

No resolution: There's no real resolution, the viewer is left to wait until the woman gets the man out of the simulation, but this is not shown. Until then he spends his time in the simulation at a rehab clinic for unseen reasons. For out of the possible ways to spend his life, why did he choose this way?

And also, the movie ends two times, and probably the first time (when he says he believes in his daughter) would have been enough.

Switching viewpoint: I didn't like it when they switched viewpoint characters, as it messed up the immersion of the movie. If we had only seen events happening through the eyes of the man, it would have been easier to accept that we see his reality.

Hallucinations: If we consider that the whole thing was about a man becoming a drug addict, the story becomes less interesting, and raises a lot more questions than the sci-fi view of the same story, and it would have made more sense if they at least hinted at it during the film. For example, if the man was muttering his thoughts, the woman could have known what he was experiencing, so she could react accordingly. But if he was just hallucinating most of the events, how did she know about them, unless she was part of the hallucination? If she was not real, what was? If she wasn't real, who gave the man a shelter and drugs? If it's a hallucination, and we see the events through his imagination, as we see some parts of the story through the eyes of his daughter, does this mean that his daughter was also imaginary? Thus, the ending means that at the rehab center he basically admits that he gives up, and decides to live in his world of fantasy?

(Edit: Based on interviews with the writer/director, he seems to believe that the daughter is real, but the movie doesn't confirm it either way. So, it would have been great if they made sure this part is clear.)

Corporation: Also, the name of the corporation the protagonist works for is "Technical Difficulties". This really sounds like something out of a simulation, it's not very realistic at all.

The trailer

The trailer spells out a large part of the story, even shows the parallels between the realities that are harder to catch in the actual movie.

Unanswered questions

How did the woman know what is his problem that needs solving? He didn't say anything about it. (Unless she was imaginary.)

Why didn't the woman remove the amulet from his ex? (Unless she was imaginary.)

Why was her ex out cold in the toilet, and why didn't somebody else remove the amulet? (If she was imaginary, how did he know there's somebody in the toilet, that needs to be mugged?)

If the woman was the man's wife, why did she first say she doesn't know him?

Why did the old woman with the walker go to roller skating? It doesn't look safe. Is this even allowed at a roller rink?

What was the deal with the doppelgangers of the man and the woman, when they got caught by the police?

If his daughter is real, why does she give him the yellow drugs?

Why did the man go to the rehab clinic in the end?

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Possibilities of improvement

 

How it could have been better?

 

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Bliss, movie (2021) - Film review by KadmonBliss, movie (2021)
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Uses for the film - Bliss, movie (2021)

Plot

  • What we percieve is a simulated reality, and most of the people here are simulated personalities
  • With the right substance, we can exit the simulation

Scenes

  • The future shots look good, those could be useful to show near-future places.

Scenarios - Role-playing game

 

Scenarios - Wargame

 

Miniatures - 1/50-1/60 (28-32mm scale)

Characters: Modern human-sized human civilians.

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Similar stories - Bliss, movie (2021)

Novels

Daniel F. Galouye: Simulacron-3 (1964): A man realises that he is living in a simulated reality (virtual reality).

Koji Suzuki: Loop (1998): Simulated reality (virtual reality). The story makes more sense if you read the previous novels in the series, Ring, and Spiral.

Philip K. Dick: Many of his stories deal with simulated reality, or questionable realities.

  • Philip K. Dick: A Maze of Death (1970): A man realises that he is living in a simulated reality (virtual reality).
  • Philip K. Dick: The Electric Ant (1969): An ordinary man realises that he is able to change his perception of reality.
  • Philip K. Dick: Time Out of Joint (1959-1960): An ordinary man realises that he is living in a simulated reality (virtual reality).

Movies

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947): An ordinary man spends his time daydreaming. He meets with a woman, who changes his life, and they go on a strange adventure.

Movies - Reality-bending

13th Floor (1999): A man realises that he is living in a simulated reality (virtual reality). Based on Simulacron-3. Remake of World on a Wire (1973).

Dark City (1998): An ordinary man realises that he is living in a simulated reality (engineered reality).

eXistenZ (1999): A man enters a simulated reality (virtual reality), but in the end he is not sure what is real.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): A man tries to change his memory of the past. This causes him to experience a strange reality.

Fight Club (1999): An ordinary man realises that the reality he percieves is not entirely real (hallucinations).

Freaks – Du bist eine von uns / Freaks: You're One of Us (2020): An ordinary woman receives magical powers. She also realises that the reality she percieves is not entirely real (charade).

Inception (2010): The characters build simulated realities (dreams).

Matrix (1999): An ordinary man realises that he is living in a simulated reality (virtual reality).

Moon (2009): A man living alone on a Moon base realises he is living in a simulated reality (charade), and gets out of it.

Serenity (2019): An ordinary man realises that he is living in a simulated reality (virtual reality).

Sixth Sense (1999): A man realises that the reality he percieves is not entirely real (hallucinations as a ghost).

The Adjustment Bureau (2011): An ordinary man realises that the reality he percieves is not entirely real (engineered reality).

The Island (2005): An ordinary man realises that he is living in a simulated reality (charade).

The Truman Show (1998): An ordinary man realises that he is living in a simulated reality (charade). It's a comedy.

Total Recall (1990): An ordinary man enters a simulated reality (virtual reality), but in the end he is not sure what is real.

World on a Wire (1973): A man realises that he is living in a simulated reality (virtual reality). Based on Simulacron-3.

Movies - People with powers

Brightburn (2019): An ordinary boy receives magical powers, and uses it for selfish deeds.

Chronicle (2012): An ordinary man receives magical powers, and uses it for selfish deeds.

Freaks – Du bist eine von uns / Freaks: You're One of Us (2020): An ordinary woman receives magical powers. She also realises that the reality she percieves is not entirely real (charade).

Psychokinesis (2018): An ordinary man receives magical powers. It is more light-hearted than Bliss.

TV series

The Prisoner (1967-1968): A man is put in a simulated reality (charade).

WandaVision (2021): A man realises that he is living in a simulated reality (magical illusion).

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Frequently asked questions - Bliss, movie (2021)

Is Bliss film based on a book or comics?

No, Bliss is not based on either books or comics.

Is there a post credit scene in Bliss?

No, there's no post credit scene in Bliss.

Where can I watch Bliss online? Is Bliss available on Netflix? Is Bliss on Amazon?

As of 2021.06.10, Bliss is on Amazon.

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Resources - Bliss, movie (2021)

Information

IMDB: Bliss (2021): Database article.

WikiPedia: Bliss (2021 film): Database article.

Letterboxd: Bliss 2021: Database article.

Rotten Tomatoes: Bliss 2021: Database article.

Scraps from the Loft: Bliss (2021) – Transcript: The transcript of the movie.§

Creation

 

Reviews with no spoilers - Bliss film (2021)

AdamGeorge: Bliss Movie EXPLAINED...: Review video with no spoilers. It doesn't explain the movie.Ł

Movies And Munchies: Bliss (2021) Amazon Original Movie Review: Review video with no spoilers.Ł

Obsessive Cinema Disorder 電影強迫症: Bliss Review: Review article about the Bliss film with no spoilers.

Reviews with no spoilers - Bliss film (2021) - Hungarian

Kónya Sándor (for Puliwood): Bliss - Review (in Hungarian): Review article of the Bliss movie, with no spoilers, in Hungarian.

English version by Google Translate

Reviews with no spoilers - Bliss film (2021) - Italian

Marco Minniti (for Asbury Movies): BLISS (in Italian): Review article of the Bliss movie, with no spoilers, in Italian.

English version by Google Translate

Reviews with spoilers - Bliss film (2021)

Movie Emporium: Bliss (2021) - Ending Explained: Review video with spoilers. It doesn't explain the ending, though.Ł

The Ruby Tuesday: Bliss (2021) Amazon Movie SPOILER & ENDING EXPLAINED: Review video with spoilers.Ł

Analysis - TITLE movie (2021)

 

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Buying the product - Bliss, movie (2021)

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Have you seen the Bliss film? How do you like the movie? Would you recommend it to others? Do you know reviews or resources you'd like to add? What further thoughts do you have about it? Tell your opinion in the comments!

 

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