The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Amazon Prime Video] - BLISS | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Amazon Prime Video] - BLISS

bliss review
A depressed office worker meets a homeless woman who convinces him they're living in a simulation.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Mike Cahill

Starring: Owen Wilson, Salma Hayek, Nesta Cooper, Madeline Zima, DeRon Horton, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Joshua Leonard

bliss poster

Mike Cahill makes the sort of science fiction movies that seem aimed at a unique fanbase - that stoner who hangs out in the kitchens of parties and corners girls who just want to grab a beer from the fridge with pseudo-philosophical questions like "What if there was an exact copy of our planet populated by exact copies of ourselves, mannnn???" (Another Earth), or "Duude, maybe the eyes really are the windows to the soul???" (I Origins). With his latest and most graciously budgeted wannabe mind-bender, Bliss, Cahill indulgences that ultimate party kitchen talking point - "What if we're, like, all just living in a simulation, bro???"

bliss review

Part Matrix, part the sort of movie a scientologist might make, and part rom-com, Bliss stars Owen Wilson as depressed office worker Greg Wittle, who accidentally kills his boss upon being fired for his constant daydreaming. Fleeing the scene, Greg goes to a nearby bar where he meets Isabel (Salma Hayek) a homeless Mexican woman dressed like the fifth member of 4 Non Blondes. Somewhat improbably, she almost immediately convinces Greg that it doesn't matter that he killed his boss, as none of this is real anyway. Now that I think of it, if Salma Hayek started talking to me in a bar I'd be inclined to go along with anything she said too.

bliss review

Initially, Greg finds the idea that nothing really matters liberating and has fun behaving in a consequence free manner. But then when he's whisked out of the simulation to the "real" world, where Isabel is actually a research scientist, he realises that the one part of his life he truly appreciated - his daughter Emily (Nesta Cooper) - never really existed. This raises the question at the heart of Bliss's needlessly complicated plot - whether it's better to live happily in ignorance or to have all the facts but little contentment. Is ignorance really bliss?

Bliss never quite grapples with this notion. For most of us, whether the world is real or merely a simulation makes little difference, as ultimately how we live is determined by factors outside of our control, by the lottery that decides whether we're born into Royalty or in a slum. Cahill doesn't seem interested in exploring the sociopolitical questions that Bliss seems ripened to mine, and so the film plays like a poorly thought out Matrix knockoff without the gun-play.

bliss review

For a movie with so little to say, Bliss sure does contain an awful lot of exposition. Wilson is a good everyman foil for this sort of thing, and he manages to somewhat keep the jargon grounded, but Hayek is badly miscast and can't sell the cod-philosophy the script asks of her. The film closes on an emotional moment that should have us reaching for the Kleenex, but it hasn't done anything to earn such a resolution. After spending 140 minutes prodding our brains, Cahill finally attempts to penetrate our hearts, but by that point most viewers will likely have unplugged themselves from this particular simulation and returned to more interesting real world chores like folding laundry, taking out the bins or filling out a tax return.

 is on Amazon Prime Video now.

2021 movie reviews