I have to admit that I approached this movie without much preconceived information. In fact, I thought this was a romantic comedy. Can you blame me, since it has Owen Wilson in it and the poster of him with Salma Hayek looks like a typical poster for another feather weight leave your brains behind, romantic comedy? Well, Bliss is far from being a romantic comedy and is in fact something that is far more profound with a story that offers a dual reality.
I might have been more prepared and expected this mind twisting, dual world story had I known it was written and directed by Mike Cahill. Mike was the man behind two earlier science fiction works which also had themes about alternative worlds and parallel realities, Another Earth (2014) and I Origins (2014). Both these were produced on shoe string budgets. Bliss in comparison has two well known Hollywood stars heading the cast and presumably a more decent budget to work with.
I notice that my opinion here is once again in conflict with many negative reviews from critics. Some of the negative reviews I personally find unfair as they are based on generalised comments which could easily be applied to many movies. To me, Bliss has a very original story that progresses with the viewer constantly unprepared for what’s going to happen next. I always enjoy watching something original that is interesting and unpredictable. As the story progresses, questions and more questions are raised in our mind. Which of the two worlds that we are shown is the real one? Is Salma Hayek’s character real? By the end of the movie we are left with something quite open ended as not everything is explained. I thought it was quite clever in that this film to me, can be interpreted in multiple ways and view points. Is it about drug addiction? Mental illness? Depression? or is it a science fiction movie about a futuristic science experiment that transport a person’s mind to think he is in another reality. I think different people will take away something different from this movie which is not something that can be easily achieved. This reinforces Mike Cahill’s talent in coming up with these extraordinary stories about parallel universes. He also demonstrates a personal style in his direction and makes good use of sound to enhance the viewing experience which is not something that happens for conventional movies of this nature.
Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek both gave convincing performances. It was unusual to see Owen in a role that isn’t comical and it was refreshing. At the end of the day, Bliss is not everybody’s cup of tea and needs to be viewed with an open mind. Otherwise it could end up feeling like just another senseless mind f***.