*** Warning ‘ere be spoilers! ***
There’s one at every festival. A film so strange and almost laughable that you wonder how it made it into the selection. Or how it even got made. Bliss! is that film for EIFF 2016.
Freya Parks plays Tasha, a young girl who finds out one day that the man she has been told is her father actually, well, isn’t. Armed with the knowledge that her mother referred to some guy as her “viking”, a bottle of perfume, and some maps, Tasha heads off to Norway to find her father. And that’s the main storyline.
Directed by Rita Osei, from a script by Alex Ferguson that develops the story idea she worked out with Jenny Wilkes, Bliss! is almost a non-stop run of unintentionally hilarious moments. You have the strangely uneven performances that make even the more heated moments just feel quite flat, you have a musical motif in the form of one short song that Tasha keeps singing because . . . . . . . . of no reason other than that’s what she does (and it makes for a convenient strand in the narrative), and don’t even get me started on how a young girl seemingly living at the very short end of the austerity wedge somehow manages to get the money together for a ferry trip to Norway, plus more food and drink and travel once she gets there. Oh, she raids a charity tin at one point but I very much doubt that had enough money in it for train fares and food. There’s also the quickest turnaround from hostility to friendliness since two certain superheroes realised that they had a mother with the same first name.
I’ve tried to be nice with many of my reviews, as I always do. Look for the good in something, that’s often what I do, because a whole team of people, with more skills than I possess, all came together to work on each movie. But a film like Bliss! doesn’t really have too many good points, which makes it harder to hold back and play nice when you feel the need to warn people to stay as far away as possible. I can’t single out any performances, the cinematography was a bit strange in places (not sure if the screen ratio had been changed at some point, but some panning shots contained an annoying curving of the background/edges), and the soundtrack was pretty awful.
If you watch it then I suspect you will either consider my rating to be spot on or, perhaps, consider it to be too generous. If you’re in the latter camp then I will just explain that I gave it a couple of points for general competence and making me laugh in bewilderment.
Bliss! is showing at 2040 on 19th June at Odeon 4, and 1800 on 20th June at Filmhouse 2.
DIRECTOR: RITA OSEI
WRITER: ALEX FERGUSON, STORY BY RITA OSEI AND JENNY WILKES
STARS: FREYA PARKS, DAVID LEON, LARS ARENTZ-HANSEN, MONTSERRAT LOMBARD, REECE NOI, LAUREN JOHNS
RUNTIME: 93 MINS APPROX