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Bliss (1997)

This confused and awkward slice of psychological erotica is not lacking in mood or style, but virgin writer-director Lance Young fails to settle on a coherent tone for the narrative of his film. Craig Sheffer stars as a humorless newlywed burdened with an intense love for his frigid, borderline bride (Sheryl Lee), whom he eventually catches acting out sexual-abuse fantasies with a maverick sexotherapist (Terence Stamp). For most of the movie, Young seems intent on crafting an overly serious skin-flick about marital comforts, but his dour approach squelches any sense of naughty fun, and he successfully hammers out any last vestige of prurient interest when Lee begins graphically describing the sexual abuse her character endured as an infant. All that remains then is the love story between the insufferably dull Sheffer and his aggravating wife — a romance that demands patience with no pay-off. To make matters worse, too much of Young's dialogue is over-the-top dramatic, making Stamp's arch doctor come off, at times, like a priapic Hannibal Lecter. Also with Spalding Gray. Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Bliss offers a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and Dolby Digital4 5.1 audio. Trailers for other films, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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