“Bliss” Review: A Giant Leap for Philippine Cinema

BLISS (2017) Review
Directed by Jerrold Tarog

We mostly see romantic comedies, satirical comedies, drama films about infidelity and horror movies in the Philippines, that’s what the mass wants or they think they want because we’ve been obviously getting it more than we wanted. Then, TBA came. The studio that tries to bring the Filipino audiences rather different movies and took the necessary risks just to give the audiences what they really deserved.

After Heneral Luna, everyone’s been waiting for what writer, editor and director Jerrold Tarog’s next project is. And now, we’re here.

Bliss came to us as this controversial film because of its MTRCB rating, but knowing Tarog’s works, there’s always a reason for the elements he put to his works, so even for an R-18 film, everything is well-thought-out.

The film is about Jane Ciego (Iza Calzado), a successful actress, produces her own film to gain respect from the industry. During the film production, she is involved in a terrible accident that leaves her disabled. She is left in her house under the care and supervision of her husband, Carlo (TJ Trinidad) and a cruel, unusual nurse named Lilibeth (Adrienne Vergara). As days go by, she descends into insanity as she experiences horrors and madness while being trapped in her own home.

The film traps you with its maze, a maze of confusion and slowly but surely, immerses you with its twisted story.  It definitely isn’t the easiest film to watch, as the film requires not just patience but also attention.

The film satisfyingly progresses from the lifeless situation of Jane and jumps to a terrifying and claustrophobic state where the film mentally and emotionally drains you. You surrender to its maze that you’ll let yourself be part of what the character is experiencing, the confusion, the frustrations, even the horrifying and the stomach-churning happenings that Jane endures.

Everything in the film wouldn’t work just because of an effective story and direction but also because of its artists. This is Iza Calzado at her best, unlike anything she had done before. And with Ian Veneracion, TJ Trinidad, Shamaine Buencamino and Adrienne Vergara, the film makes wonders because of its stars.

It’s a brave and bold film that pushes the limits of local filmmaking. Tarog has outdone himself in creating a story and actually pulling it off in a country that seems to be contented with the same old stories big productions offer. It’s a giant leap for Philippine cinema, a welcome game-changer.

Let go and let Bliss take you on a mind-boggling, roller coaster ride.

10 Bliss


4.5 stars

“Bliss” is now showing in cinemas nationwide from TBA, Artikulo Uno and Quantum Films. Rated R-18 by the MTRCB.

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