Bliss is a rare movie hybrid... as it mixes science fiction with romance. Arriving on Amazon Prime on February 5th, it sees Hollywood stars Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek go on a wild, reality-bending Matrix-style adventure.
Owen plays down-on-his-luck Greg, who’s recently divorced and has just lost his job. But a chance encounter with Isabel (Salma), a mysterious homeless woman who lives on the streets, changes everything, including his perspective on life.
Isabel, who already seems to know Greg, is convinced that the world around them is just a computer-generated simulation and that even the people around them aren’t real. What follows is a truth-twisting rollercoaster ride, with Isabel showing off her telekinesis skills and attempting to alter Greg’s worldview away from his own broken reality.
Writer Mike Cahill on the premise behind Bliss.
"Bliss is a love story, an adventure story and a father-daughter story. It’s also a science fiction movie about life inside a simulation," explains writer-director Mike Cahill, who wrote 2011 sci-fi movie Another Earth.
"Humans have an important relationship with the unreal and I wanted to tell a story about the fragility of the mind and the malleability of our perception.
"Isabel tells Greg that the world is a simulation, an illusion, and, as such, doesn’t require a moral investment. To prove her claim, she demonstrates a technique for telekinetically manipulating reality, almost like a conductor in an orchestra."
What else happens in Bliss?
Doubtful about Isabel’s claims at first, Greg soon starts to believe there may be some truth in her compelling conspiracy and enjoys embracing the fun, carefree thrill of the simulation. He even learns to harness Isabel’s world-bending power and starts to free himself him from the guilt he was carrying in his previous life.
But Greg’s two worlds collide when his daughter, Emily (Canadian actor Nesta Cooper), tracks him down and begs him to come back to reality. Of course Isabel insists that Emily simply a computer-generated illusion and tells Greg to ignore her. But whose version of reality will Greg end up believing – Isabel’s or Emily’s?
"Obviously, Greg has a tremendous reservoir of emotion for his daughter, and yet Isabel claims that this girl, like everyone they see, is nothing more than a video game character," says Mike Cahill. "But this simulation argument has no power to dissuade Greg from feeling an attachment to Emily.
"As a protagonist going into the ‘storm of Isabel,’ Greg is someone you can hold onto, feeling the thrills, the disorientation, the awe and revelations with him and through him."
How Bliss offers a grand visual spectacle as well as a rollercoaster story.
As Greg moves between his two worlds, Bliss has many moments of visual impact and special effects, including Isabel’s powers of telekinesis.
"With Bliss we sought to create a unique visual signature that was born out of and motivated by our story’s themes," says cinematographer Markus Forderer.
"In Bliss there are two different worlds that produce different feelings in the main character, one is the ‘bliss’ world, which is meant to feel peaceful, warm, appealing and inviting, and the other is the ‘ugly’ world, which is meant to feel chaotic, frustrating, messy and harsh."
What Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek bring to 'Bliss'...
Meanwhile, with two powerhouse performances, Mike Cahill admits he was fortunate to have the likes of Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek heading up the cast.
"One of my favorite performance moments occurs at the climax," he says. "Greg and Isabel are trapped in this complicated high pressure situation. Things have gotten really out of hand and Isabel says about her created world, ‘this is terrible, this is a nightmare, this is me!’ And Greg looks to her and says, ‘but there’s something kind of beautiful about it…’
"Working with Owen and Salma was an amazing experience. They’re both brilliant artists and they both have different, complimentary qualities, which together are explosive."
When can we watch 'Bliss' on Amazon Prime?
Bliss launches worldwide on Amazon Prime Video from Friday 5 February. Enjoy!
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.