Amazon Prime's Sci-Fi Movie 'Bliss' Is Anything But

'Bliss' will make you wish life really was a simulation-so you could pull the plug.

Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime

The idea that our reality isn’t actually real isn’t a new one. Ancient Greek philosophers, Indian and Chinese thinkers, René Descartes, Philip K. Dick, and, most recently, philosopher Nick Bostrom (who popularized the chilling computer simulation theory) have all come up with various ideas for what our universe is. Is what’s happening around us really happening? Are we dreaming? Am I the only person who is actually real, and are all the rest of you just products of my subconscious like the projections in Inception? Searching for evidence one way or the other is a potent thought exercise, one that Bliss, the latest movie from writer-director Mike Cahill, utterly wastes.

Bliss, which is now streaming on Amazon Prime, begins by introducing Greg (played by Owen Wilson), a plodding office worker who sketches his daydreams about a “dream house” perched at the edge of a Mediterranean marina. He works at an Office Space-y “Technical Difficulties” department where every employee is obliged to begin every interaction with “I’m sorry,” and he is fired due to low productivity. He’s soon taken in by free spirit Isabel (Salma Hayek), who convinces him that they’re the only people who are “real” and that they’re actually living in a simulation. They engage in a few chemistry-less roller rink montages and then go off in search of a drug that will, Isabel says, bring them back to the real world.Both Wilson and Hayek are quite good-but that’s to be expected, they’re good actors. Hayek is, unfortunately, trapped somewhere between homeless Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Hot and Smart Lady Scientist, but that’s mostly the fault of the script, which zooms both characters around alternate worlds so erratically it never gives them a few moments to develop some believable connection to each other.

There’s a payoff to all of this, but it’s just not interesting enough to warrant nearly two hours of Greg and Isabel trudging through aspiringly metaphysical discussions about the nature of existence that are simply nothing new, even with the perplexing additions of Bill Nye (yes, the Science Guy) and film critic philosopher extraordinaire Slavoj Žižek. Writer-director Cahill, of speculative fiction oddities like 2011’s Another Earth (which tricks you into thinking it’s deeper than it is) and I Origins (which doesn’t even do that), has again created something that wants badly to convince you it’s smart, without actually giving any reason to think that.

There is a good movie buried deep beneath the layers of simulated worlds in Bliss, after a second-act twist that indeed exposes the film’s reality for a fraud. The movie does ponder a genuinely interesting question: Are our lives really bettered by the knowledge that they are worse in other realities? What would it do to someone’s brain if they found that out? What would you give up to live in one or the other? According to theory, there is indeed a universe out there in which Bliss is a good movie-but it’s not this one.Need help finding something to watch? Sign up here for our weekly Streamail newsletter to get streaming recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.

Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.


Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.


Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.


BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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