Bliss (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

Bliss (1985)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

This critically acclaimed surrealistic comedy won the Australian Academy Award for the "Best Film" of 1985. Advertising executive Harry Joy (Barry Otto) suffers a heart attack and has a near-death experience that changes his outlook on life. His miraculous return convinces him that there is a heaven but that his life on Earth is hell. His wife Bettina (Lynette Curran) has her worst fears realized when she develops brain cancer from gasoline fumes. His son David deals cocaine and receives sexual favors from his drug-addicted sister Lucy (Gia Carides). Harry finds love with a kind-hearted prostitute (Helen Jones) who kills a top oil-company executive, and then herself, with Molotov cocktails. Shocking scenes include cockroaches bursting from Harry's stitches after his open-heart surgery, and fish dropping from in between a woman's legs onto a restaurant floor. This bizarre and often slow-moving film lampoons the luridness of the human condition.more
Rating: R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Peter Carey, Ray Lawrence
In Theaters:
Runtime:
Starmaker Entertainment

Cast

Barry Otto
as Harry Joy
Lynette Curran
as Bettina Joy
Helen Jones
as Honey Barbara
Miles Buchanan
as David Joy
Gia Carides
as Lucy Joy
Tim Robertson
as Alex Duval
Paul Chubb
as Mr. Des
Bryan Marshall
as Adrian Clunes
Nique Needles
as Ken McLaren
Kerry Walker
as Alice Dalton
George Whaley
as Harry's Father
John Doyle
as Doctor
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Bliss

Critic Reviews for Bliss

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (3)

Full Review… | May 28, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

A droll, dry and mordantly amusing comedy-drama that exists in a Twilight Zone-esque world impossible to gauge or define.

Full Review… | July 25, 2015
Guardian

Viciously funny, scathing in its satire and damning in its inescapable truths...offering one of the most tender and moving climaxes I've ever seen.

Full Review… | June 16, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

A stunning tale of alienation, madness and redemption.

Full Review… | June 20, 2001
Film Written Magazine

Audience Reviews for Bliss

An obscure Australian film whose weirdness and oddity is boldly presented. 25 years after its release, Bliss is still a fascinatingly bizarre experience as its caustic flavor still bites through its comic delirium.

This was one of those movies that came on after a movie I actually wanted to watch, but I was too lazy to change the channel. It was kinda confusing and didn't make a lot of sense and I think it's supposed to be funny ... but not really ... as far as I can tell.

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Bliss by Ray Lawrence, 1985 (Director's Cut)

Greeted with a mass walkout at the Canne Film Festival [i]Bliss [/i]is a film that proves the pundits at Canne don't always get it right. Often critized for being too long and overly ambitous [i]Bliss [/i]can be a bit much to take in if you decide to watch this film at the wrong time. I, however, don't feel this is a negative thing by any means. For example I love [i]The Thin Red Line[/i] but I invariably fall asleep if I try to watch it late in the evening.

Coming in at just over 2 hours, the director's cut of [i]Bliss[/i] is a sprawling introspective look sociopolitical issues that are still relevant in Australia today. This introspection is played out through a cast of quirky characters and quirky local Australian humor.

The story centers around Harry Joy (Barry Otto), a highly successful man who works in advertising and loves to tell a good story. Almost immediately Harry Joy dies, for four minutes that is, until he is revived. His revival sparks a journey that leads him to believe that he is at turns mad or in hell. Ultimately he realizes he is neither and goes through a transformation of a deeply personal nature.

In some ways I was reminded of [i]Big Fish[/i] when I watched this fim. But where [i]Big Fish[/i] chose to deal simply with the relationship between father and son, [i]Bliss[/i] chooses to shoot for something much bigger in scope. It considers modern urban life and what consequences that brings to our society. Cancer is a major thematic point in the film, and one does not need to be a resident of Australia to realize the cancer maps that insurance companies use are just as prevelant in the United States. Other themes involve personal demonization in the pursuit of money, "In the end, what else is there." and the more complex dynamics of the modern family.

Juxtaposing Harry Joy's utterly corrupt family and hollow relationship between him and his equally hollow wife with the simplistic relationship Harry Joy discovers with Honey Barbara the film also delves into the dynamics of human relationships and what is lost is the hustle of modern life.

Admittedly these are themes that have been explored before in cinema, but it is the uniquely Australian flavor that makes the film particularly interesting. Similar themes are covered, but are looked at in a uniquely different light.

If I had any complaints about the film, it would be that there was a little too much voice over narration for my taste, but all in all that is a minor complaint to have.

Grinth
Devon Durand

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