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'Bliss' review: A film that takes a different approach

The intriguing Bliss takes a slightly different approach and is in no hurry to reveal its offbeat conceit, writes Graeme Virtue

Bliss follows Greg who, after recently being divorced and then fired, meets the mysterious Isabel, a woman living on the streets and convinced that the polluted, broken world around them is a computer simulation. Image credit: Amazon Studios/Entertainment Pictures

Bliss follows Greg who, after recently being divorced and then fired, meets the mysterious Isabel, a woman living on the streets and convinced that the polluted, broken world around them is a computer simulation. Image credit: Amazon Studios/Entertainment Pictures

The thought of plugging our brains into some sort of immersive simulation to escape the stress or tedium of our daily lives is certainly an appealing one, even if cautionary tales like The Matrix and Black Mirror have warned against embracing the virtual world completely.

The intriguing Bliss takes a slightly different approach and is in no hurry to reveal its offbeat conceit.

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Owen Wilson stars as a harried call centre middle-manager having an absurdly bad day; after a meeting with his boss takes an unexpected turn, he falls in with free spirit Isabel (Salma Hayek), who convinces him to abandon the responsibilities of his dull life and live off the grid for a while.

Writer/director Mike Cahill has a reputation for creating sci-fi head-scratchers on a shoestring, and after cult hits Another Earth and I Origins he is clearly levelling up with appealing stars and a heftier visual effects budget.

But there is something a little disconcerting about how Bliss folds the language and behaviours of addiction into its wider story, even if it does entertainingly answer a previously unasked question: how would Neo deploy his Matrix powers at a roller disco?

Three stars out of five

Bliss is on Amazon Prime Video from February 5

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