Bliss movie, the meaning: sci-fi, drug addiction or mental illness?

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This article reveals the explained plot and the detailed events in the movie Bliss directed by Mike Cahill, revealing its meaning, symbols and storyline. We recommend you to read it only after watching the movie, and not before, in order to preserve the pleasure of the first vision.

Bliss is a 2021 film that combines elements of science fiction with an unconventional love story. The film has a particular plot, which attempts to explain the events under a line of interpretation but which contains several elements that enter into contradiction, forcing the viewer to find by himself a more obvious explanation of what is observed. Let’s see together the explanation of the movie, which elements contradict the reality we observe and how to explain in a simple way what we see.

The plot and the ending of the film

Greg Wittle (Owen Wilson) is an employee of a mediocre company with some difficulties in staying lucid, an ex-wife and two children. He is fired and from that moment his life takes an extremely chaotic form: he involuntarily kills his boss simply by jumping up from his chair, then he meets a woman, Isabel (Salma Hayek), who explains to him that everything he observes in the world is the result of a computer simulation and teaches him to manipulate it through telekinesis. This occurs through the use of some yellow crystals, which she knows how to get. Despite being able to manipulate reality, Isabel apparently needs to make money as a prostitute in order to procure the crystals.

During this part of the film we often see Greg’s daughter, Emily, the only character who motivates Greg to “choose” which reality he wants to believe, often repeating to him that in this period he is not lucid and cannot really understand things. On the other hand, Isabel always seems extremely sure of what’s real and what’s not, and wants to guide Greg in every aspect of his life, asking him to trust her. When Greg has doubts, Isabel explains that she has to show him proof of what she says by letting him see it with his eyes. In order to do this, they need to inhale more powerful crystals, the blue ones.

They take a dose of those crystals (not a full dose, but a reduced one because there wasn’t enough for both). Once done, the two awaken in a utopian and beautiful world, where everything seems perfect: poverty no longer exists because all the inhabitants of the Earth have an income donated from above, and not being forced to work, everyone can freely spend time on what they prefer. In this world Greg and Isabel are two doctors. Greg does not remember / understand any of this, and Isabel explains that this is a result of not having the right dose of blue crystals (although she doesn’t suffer this effect). Isabel explains to him that the “simulation” Greg lived in before was an invention of her, created to let the inhabitants of that perfect world experience what it means to live in a bad world, in order to make them appreciate the true reality (because apparently, even in that utopian world, humans are angry and frustrated).

As this part of the film progresses, utopia is cracking. Projections begin to break into the utopian world more and more frequently. His daughter Emily also arrives, explaining again to her father how sooner or later he will have to choose which world to believe in, and she asks him to choose the one that makes him feel better. Meanwhile, the utopia of that world fades and the riots return. Isabel explains to Greg that “somehow” traces of the simulation remained in their brains due to the fact that they didn’t get enough blue crystals, and now they have to go back into the simulation as soon as possible and get more.

When they return, Isabel kills the man who provides him with the crystals. The two return to her tent, to find that once again the crystals are not enough for both of them. Meanwhile, they are hunted down by the police. Greg suggests that Isabel take all the crystals and leave it there. She inhales the crystals and we don’t know what will happen to her, meanwhile Greg escapes and slips into a rehabilitation center for drug addicts. He shows her daughter’s photo and says something very simple: “This woman says she is my daughter, and I want to believe her.” In the final scene, we see Greg, much more lucid, hugging his daughter.

The explanation of the film and the ending

Bliss - Official Trailer (2021) | Prime Video

During the film we apparently see two realities: the one in which Greg lives at the beginning and end of the film, and the utopian one of the middle part. Somehow Isabel wants to convince him that the utopian one is the true reality, while the other is a simulation. However, that does not explain to us why the utopian reality (the real one, according to Isabel) crumbles due to projections, and it does not explain how Greg was able to manipulate even that reality with yellow crystals (that theoretically can be done ony if reality is simulated). From another point of view, if the real world were the other one, how do we explain the fact that Greg and Isabel are able to manipulate that reality? What is the real explanation of everything?

The explanation of the film is actually much simpler, and the viewer becomes aware of it autonomously during the film: Greg is a drug addict under the constant influence of drugs, and everything we see in the film is the effect of the substances he takes. So both the first reality and the utopian one are produced / influenced by the hallucinations that drugs cause them. The yellow crystals are the medium strength drugs he takes more often, which make him believe he can drive reality, while the blue crystals are much more powerful drugs that project him into an imaginary world and keep him in that state for several days. .

Who is Isabel? She could be another addict that Greg spends time with, and with whom he shares hallucinations, or she could simply not exist and represent drug addiction itself. Emily instead is real, she is the daughter who still loves her father despite his conditions, and who wants to keep him anchored to reality. Unfortunately, every time the two meet, Greg is under the influence of drugs and is not lucid, as Emily herself admits.

The initial workplace would seem real. Greg actually gets fired, and that causes him to go into a nervous breakdown in which he imagines he killed the boss. The boss comes back alive in the second half of the film, and although Isabel justifies this as a simulation reset, in reality the boss is never dead, and all the colleagues try to push Greg away as a drug addict and therefore dangerous.

Much of the film, then, from the moment Greg thinks he killed the boss to the end when Greg escapes the police, is a continuous series of visions caused by his altered mental state of him, often under the influence of drugs. Eventually, Greg goes to rehab. From this point of view he “chooses” the true reality, the one outside the effect of drugs. His final sentence makes sense: “I want to believe my daughter”. I want to live in the real world and quit drugs, get my head back. The final hug between Greg and his daughter is a sign that the father is recovering.

Bliss is therefore a film that talks about the altered way in which an addict sees reality, and does so by introducing science fiction elements such as computer simulations and utopian futures. But apart from the science fiction side, it is a delirium-movie narrated by a protagonist in constantly altered mental conditions.