Much has been said about Jerrold Tarog’s Bliss, which originally received an X rating from the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). According to the agency, the film was given the rating because of explicit nudity. As a result, the film was deemed unfit for public exhibition. Okay, there was a lot of nudity, but I’m happy to report that it doesn’t overshadow the core of the film: a thought-provoking and well-crafted story on the entertainment industry and its chilling effect on artists.
Bliss follows Iza Calzado as Jane Ciego, a popular actress who suffers an accident during the taping of a film. She is recovering at home, cared for by TJ Trinidad as her husband Carlo and Adrienne Vergara as her nurse Lilibeth. While there, she experiences hallucinations and begins to question both her sanity and the conditions she is in.
The most enjoyable thing about Bliss is how it throws a lot of red herrings at the audience, making us draw different explanations as to what is happening. Is Jane really losing her mind? Or is her husband taking advantage of her wealth while he remains unemployed? The film takes on many directions, but still comes off as a clean and well-told story. However, eagle-eyed viewers will notice the easter eggs scattered around the film, such as titles of books and bottles of lotion.
Calzado shines in her role. She elegantly portrays Jane’s downward spiral, but she doesn’t exaggerate, proving that local films can show a woman question her sanity without hysterics. I also loved watching Vergara’s performance as Lilibeth, and she can evoke strong feelings with just a laugh or a glassy-eyed stare. Shamaine Buencamino as Jane’s mom was an expected hit, along with Audie Gemora as Lexter Palao, the film-within-the-film’s flamboyant director.
Bliss reminds us that there is more to local cinema than tired romcoms between the same set of actors and poverty porn. This gem of a film shows us how mainstream cinema can push boundaries and still be palatable to everyone film studios answer to. I hope it does well in the box office so we can see more films like this. I’m going to do my part by watching it again.
Bliss is still showing in select cinemas. For the complete and updated list of Bliss screenings, visit their Facebook page.