Skyler Johnson ‘22 / Emertainment Monthly Comics Section Editor
Bliss (2021), not to be confused with 2019’s 1985’s and 1997’s Bliss, which are unrelated, follows Greg (Owen Wilson), a down-on-his-luck guy who after being fired from his job meets the mysterious Isabel (Salma Hayek), who offers him a compelling version of reality that separates him from his family.
How does Owen Wilson still get roles? He’s not that talented. He can only play one type of character, and that is a likeable but peculiar person; he’s often the protagonist of a Woody Allen movie. If you didn’t know the director was Mike Cahill, you’d think Allen’s the one who made this film. The resemblances are striking, not just with the protagonist but with the themes and dialogue. It’s the type of movie where pretentious film majors could point out details like the color scheme and costume design and how they serve towards the theme. So if you’re in need of a new Woody Allen film, Bliss will scratch that itch.
Bliss, if nothing else, is a watchable movie. You’re never getting bored or turning off the film. The characters are interesting and you become invested in them. You’re not sure what they’re going to do next. A boring day at the office could quickly turn into a murder scene. Then we could see a fight at the bar. While there are slow moments, you’re never left bored.
Salma Hayek delivers an excellent performance. Isabel is a fascinating protagonist. She appears to be a basic manic pixie dream girl early on, but we start to see a different side to her as time continues. We see her get angry, have goals, and make bad decisions.
The film can get surprisingly dark and gritty. For a film with simple morals, you see the dark underbelly of human civilization portrayed. This is, partially, due to the excellent performance by Hayek, through her heinous actions, which Greg has to suffer the negative effects of.
The movie does have a theme, and a relevant theme…I think. It’s not clear what it’s actually going for. It’s either a commentary on drugs or a commentary on happiness. It can’t be both. Part of this comes from scenes where it’s unclear what’s going on. The line between reality and fiction becomes blurred, and not in the good way. There are scenes that are integral to understanding the theme that don’t make any sense, and as a result you’re left with two possible analyses with their being evidence for both.
Overall, this is a fun movie with unavoidable plot holes. B.