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movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Bliss

Starring: Sheryl Lee, Craig Sheffer
Director: Lance Young
Rated: R
RunTime: 98 Minutes
Release Date: June 1997
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Spalding Gray, Terence Stamp

Review by MrBrown
1½ stars out of 4

Joseph (Craig Sheffer) and Maria (Sheryl Lee) appear to be the perfect young married couple, but there's one pesky problem--Maria fakes her orgasms. Enter Balthazar (Terence Stamp), a physician specializing in the healing powers of sex--or, as he's referred to in one scene, "Dr. Fuck"--who trains Maria and, ultimately, Joseph in the art of achieving spiritual and sexual bliss.

The international media audience with whom I saw Lance Young's long-delayed film (it had been held up for a year due to ratings trouble) could not take the film nearly as seriously as he would have like it to be--and how could they, especially when a lot of the dialogue inches into Joe Eszterhas territory (my favorite exchange--Joseph: "I can't come!" Maria: "Too bad, MOTHERFUCKER!") and the stabs at comic relief play as pure camp? It got to the point where the audience started to mock the more "serious" passages. When Balthazar tells Joseph, "You have to make love with love and adoration," someone in the back of the audience started clapping, and everyone laughed; a similar reaction came when Maria is finally able to climax.

Bliss finally falls apart beyond repair in the third act, when, without warning, the film takes a gravely serious turn, becoming in effect what can best be described as a lost, alternate reality chapter of Twin Peaks, Lee's former television series--What if Laura Palmer had lived and gotten married? As seen in the Peaks feature, Fire Walk with Me, Lee does some good emoting, but Sheffer is too much of a lightweight to completely convince in his big emotional scene with Lee. Stamp, on the other hand, is the only one involved in the film with some handle on how ridiculous much of it is, dispensing his character's carnal wisdom with tongue firmly in cheek.

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