BLISS (2019) Review

Opening with a spirited punk song and sloppily painted credit sequence with a fun and wacky late 80s or early 90s Pee Wee’s Playhouse or Liquid Television aesthetic, Bliss feels lost in time aesthetically: in fact, one could actually be tricked into believing that this movie was filmed around that time. It also has a Liquid Sky (1982) vibe to it, although it’s less aimless and its soundtrack is far less irritating.

Upon meeting Dez (was anyone else reminded of Black Flag’s Dez Cadenza?), we see her life thrown into turmoil: she’s late for her meeting, her rent is late, and her agent drops her because her paintings aren’t selling. Amidst this spiral, she decides to add fuel to her fire: a visit her drug-dealer and purchase a brick of an MDMA and cocaine mixed drug, the variety of which (“Diablo” or “Black Dynamite”) even her dealer cautions her about consuming too plentifully. For the duration of the film’s short runtime, there’s nary a breath taken by Dez without a copious amount of something black or brown simultaneously snorting up her nose.   

After the first inspiring and rejuvenating night of debauchery, the bender begins to take a darker, more poisonous hue in subsequent nights; oh yeah, and the fact that Dez was turned into a vampire isn’t really helping either. Her Zdzisław Beksiński-inspired painting continues to blossom, growl, shape amidst degenerate feedback, snarling punk songs, post-vomit blood kisses in female latrines, lonely afternoons smoking on the couch (a brief respite), taking showers in blood, hysterically calling everyone she knows in a panicked hangover, smashing mirrors while stealing the breath of unseen wild animals, her back bent in rages, and the forgotten possibility of sobriety. “I keep blacking out. There’s all these paintings I don’t remember,” Dez recalls in one of the few lines of dialogue not riddled with expletives. 

As the film roars to its chaotic and blood-drenched conclusion, a body cam is more frequently attached to Dez, the camera technique which makes the character not appear to move while everything else does; this cinematic technique is especially apropos for this film in which Dez can only seemingly work on her painting if she causes everything else to crumble around her troubled distant soul and ferocious amazonian physique. 

Today is April 30th, 2020, and Bliss is currently streaming on Shudder

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