What is the story about?
Greg, a middle-aged man is struggling with life after being divorced and fired. At a bar, he runs into a mysterious woman, Isabel, who tells him that the world he lives in is a computer simulation and he can bend events to his will. Greg and Isabel keep going to a better world, which Isabel describes as a "real world", even as he grows distant from his daughter Isabel But when Greg starts falling in love with Isabel's vision, can he keep his sanity intact, or is there to Isabel than meets the eye?
Some films leave you with the feeling that you've spent the past couple of hours banging your head against a wall thinking there's a window hidden by the concrete. Mike Cahill's Bliss falls into this "esteemed" category. The entire trope of the world being a computer simulation is not a new concept, as the Wachowskis became the bulwarks of pop culture by basing the Matrix franchise on this concept years ago. In Cahill's hands, it feels like a sloppy afterthought, as he tries to talk about too many things at once. You are never sure whether he wants to talk about the toxicity and stress of everyday life, or the opioid crisis in America. After an arresting opening sequence, the novelty of the film starts wearing thin, and the entire screenplay, derivative as it is, takes viewers to what frankly must be one of the blandest endings of all time. We've just started February, but it looks like 2021 already has a contender for "worst sci-fi film of the year".
Owen Wilson has perfected the art of playing befuddled characters who tentatively try to make sense of weird realities, and here, too, he puts his best foot forward as Greg. In fact, he is suitably cast here. Nesta Cooper is dependable as Greg's daughter Emily. However, Salma Hayek's Isabel is the weakest link in this film. Her theatrics range from over-the-top to subtle--often within a single scene--and this brings the narrative tension considerably down.
Music & Other Departments
Will Bates' score is okay. Markus Forderer's camerawork predominantly uses various shades of greys and browns to describe city life.
The opening sequence, where Greg gets called into his boss' cabin to be fired, is wonderfully written, but also terrifically enacted by Wilson.
Most of the sequences feels like a feverish mashup of scenes from The Matrix and Inception.
Did I enjoy it?
Do I recommend it?
Nope. Revisiting The Matrix trilogy would be a better idea.