Bland Bliss Bores
Main Cast: Michael C. Hall, Peter Fonda
Director: Michael Knowles
I adore Michael C. Hall. I adored him as David Fisher in Six Feet Under, I adore him in the leading role in Dexter and most of all I’m in awe of his ability to successfully transition from one to the other. His big screen roles have been fewer and farther between (not surprising with the constant weekly TV schedule and some major health issues over the past decade) and when they come they tend to be in quirky indies – exactly as one would expect. In The Trouble With Bliss, Hall plays an aimless man-child who has just started sleeping with an 18-year-old school girl.
What?? Yep – Morris Bliss (Hall) is a 35-year-old man who lives with his father, has no job and is sleeping with a girl half his age. Actually, he only planned to sleep with her once, but she’s an assertive girl and turns that into a relationship from which the apathetic Morris is unable to extract himself. Morris has one friend – NJ (Chris Messina) – who makes up wild tales of his adventures around the world and shows up sporadically in Morris’ life. Otherwise the man simply walks around New York City, getting distracted, eating from street vendors and generally doing absolutely nothing. His father (Peter Fonda, who can be a scary dude when the mood strikes) plays his rigid father who’s fed up with Morris aimlessness, but puts up with it. Morris’ mother died when he was a teenager and he seems to have been stuck ever since.
Basically, The Trouble With Bliss just follows Morris around while he does nothing but react to whatever happens around him. He isn’t really part of anything; he’s always standing back, waiting. He wants to travel, but doesn’t. He reads a lot. He wanders. He waits. He isn’t particularly interesting. Thus the movie fails to be particularly interesting. Hall does what he can with the material but when one’s role it to be “uninterested and sluggish” it’s not easy. Fonda is terrific as the exasperated father who feels both guilty and embarrassed by his slacker son. Fierce and scary one second, fragile and aging the next- it’s a very
In the DVD extras, Hall explains a bit more about his character, which was originated in novel form by author Douglas Light. It seems like the film fails to capture what exactly it is that has led Morris to this pathetic place in life. We don’t know how he got stuck in this rut, what led him to be so passive and uninvolved in the world. I suspect that The Trouble With Bliss lost its nuance and its internal dialogue when it was transferred to film. As it stands, the movie gives us little insight into Morris and without much else of interest going on (aside from a few scattered shenanigans) the whole thing ends up being fairly dull.
I didn’t hate The Trouble With Bliss. But I also didn’t much like it. Even for major fans of Michael C. Hall this one is a stretch. 2 stars out of 5 (Peter Fonda alone earns that second star) and a recommendation to get the full set of Six Feet Under instead.
photo by Kevin McDuffee