Directed by Lance Young
Cast: Craig Sheffer, Sheryl Lee, Terence Stamp, Spalding Gray, Casey Siemaszko, Lois Chiles, Ken Camroux, Pamela Perry, Leigh Taylor-Young, Theresa Saldana.
1997 103 minutes
Rated: (for sex, nudity, and profanity).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, November 25, 1998.
"Bliss" is an enthralling motion picture, and one of the most educational films I've ever seen, but that is where it somewhat runs into problems, because it plays as an instructional guide on making your sex life better, rather than one that has a thorough story and characters.
"Bliss" tells of Joseph (Craig Sheffer) and Marie (Sheryl Lee), two newlyweds who are having some trouble relating to each other sexually. While at an appointment with their sex therapist (Spalding Gray), Joseph is surprised and upset when Maria admits that she has never had an orgasm while making love to him, instead faking it each time. Meanwhile, at the construction site where he works, Joseph and his coworkers delight in spying on an older man, who constantly all day, has different women come in his apartment and have sex with him, until Joseph sees Maria going in there one day. When Joseph goes to confront him at his apartment, he discovers that the man, named Baltazar Vincenza, also works as a sex therapist "on the edge of the law," and that Maria has been secretly going to him. Baltazar believes that he can help all people with their love lives, but that first, his customers must understand that the highest point in a sexual relationship is not an orgasm, but "emotional bliss."
I don't really want to give anything else away, since there are a few surprises that occur towards the end that should be discovered on their own, and from reading my synopsis, I am sure it does not sound like your usual drama.
The central storyline between the couple could be described as uninvolving, since much of the picture takes place during the training sessions between Joseph and Baltazar, but the reason that, "Bliss," is a worthwhile film to see is because I feel that I learned a lot from it, and the subject was treated in a mature, respectful manner.
Craig Sheffer and Sheryl Lee are both appealing actors, and they are very good here, creating a lot of warmth in the scenes they were in together. And Terence Stamp is just right as this mysterious man who says he has the answer to all people's sexual sufferings.
When I said that, "Bliss," is a worthwhile motion picture to see, the target audience I was referring to were people from about ages 16 and up. The material dealt with in this film contains many sexually graphic sequences, and in order for the true point of the film to be fully understood, it really is only for more older viewers. "Bliss," is an intelligent and informative instruction guide, but it does not offer much more than that, nor should it have to.
© 1998 by Dustin Putman