Capsule Reviews: Bliss & The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

Here are two capsule reviews for Bliss and The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, which can be currently streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

Bliss

Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek in "Bliss" (2021)

In Bliss, which sees Owen Wilson’s Greg Wittle playing a recently-divorced employee spending time daydreaming and sketching his ideal dream home in his office and later finds himself getting fired by his boss (Steve Zissis). Then, something unexpected happens where you have to see it for yourself. Long story short, he ends up in a bar across the street to have a drink and meets a mysterious gipsy-like woman named Isabel (Salma Hayek). Soon he learns from her that he’s been living in a simulation world and everything around them is not real.

So far, so good as Bliss spontaneously continues to explore the blurred line between simulation and reality, complete with scenes where Isabel shows him a telekinesis power by merely waving a finger. But as the movie progresses further, it gets messy and painfully tedious. It’s like one of those mind-bending sci-fi movies where you have to accept it as it is no matter how silly and preposterous the story turns out to be. Too bad writer-director Mike Cahill flooded his movie with too many unanswered questions and it doesn’t help that he loves to go ambiguous in a terribly muddled manner. Bliss also tries to slip into a romantic drama of sorts, where Greg and Isabel happen to be “soul mates” but their chemistry barely triggers a spark whatsoever and hardly justified why they really meant for each other.


The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

Kyle Allen and Kathryn Newton in Amazon Prime Video's "The Map of Tiny Perfect Things" (2021)

Last year, Hulu already gave us the Groundhog Day-like romantic comedy in Palm Springs, which centred on two strangers (Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti) stuck in a time loop. Well, here’s another time-loop rom-com and this time it’s from Amazon Prime Video, where two teenagers (Kyle Allen’s Mark and Kathryn Newton’s Margaret) live in the same day over and over again. The elaborate opening sequence, which sees Mark being one step ahead of everyone and casually fixing every little thing been going on in his sleepy little town has that cool Baby Driver-like vibe.

And while Kyle Allen and Kathryn Newton share wonderful chemistry, director Ian Samuels, working from Lev Grossman’s own adapted short story (over)stretched to a feature-length screenplay, doesn’t do much to offer anything fresh or new in this oft-told Groundhog Day-like premise. Basically, if you have seen enough of this type of films, you’ll know what to expect here. It’s all formulaic from point A to B. Even with the movie’s constant pop-culture references ranging from Groundhog Day (yes, they even mentioned the title of the film) to Star Wars, Time Bandits and even Pokémon Detective Pikachu (which happens to star Kathryn Netwon as well), The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is pretty much a forgettable one that I wish I could get out of the time loop (the movie) fast.

One thought on “Capsule Reviews: Bliss & The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

  • February 17, 2021 at 11:47 am
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    I liked BLISS much more than you did. I thought the open ended conclusion and unanswered questions lends enables different viewers to interpret it differently. This movie can easily be about how the mind plays tricks on you under the extreme depression or about the effect of drug dependency, or finally, about a straight forward science fiction story. It is this multiple personalities that I thought provided a unique quality to BLISS which is not something I would have expected.

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