Urban Cinefile
"I had a very great love affair, probably the only great love affair in my life, and it ended badly for me."  -Terence Stamp
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A young wife's sexual dysfunction leads the couple to seek help from a New Age sex therapist in hopes of attaining new levels of intimacy and ecstasy. Erotic and frank in its discussion of lovemaking techniques, the film offers a fairly serious exploration into sexuality that is only occasionally tinged with sly humour. Joseph (Craig Sheffer) and Maria (Sheryl Lee) have only been married for six months. Up until the point that Joseph discovers that Maria has never had an orgasm with him, they have been happy. The news is quite a shock to the husband. One day he is at work when he and his cronies notice the extraordinary numbers of beautiful women visiting an apartment across the street. The local scuttlebutt is that the apartment's resident is a shady sex-therapist of some sort. When Joseph sees his Maria entering the 'clinic' shortly thereafter he becomes terribly angry and goes there himself and meets the enigmatic Baltazar (Terence Stamp) who informs him that his wife's problems are deeply rooted. They talk more and Joseph agrees to allow Baltazar to teach him all he knows of Tantric sexual healing so that he can help Maria himself.

"The first impressions of this film (lot to be confused with the Australian film of the same name) is that it's an excuse for a bit of fleshy exploitation, and the film does occasionally lapse into that area. Yet as it develops, a film with more depth and clarity of purpose comes together, resulting in a moving portrait of a woman coming to terms with a shattering past. Bliss, first and foremost, an unconventional love story dealing with a man who'll stop at nothing to affirm his love and devotion to the woman he loves. Haunting, erotic and passionate, Bliss is a surprisingly brave film from a country whose cinema is often the opposite. Sexually graphic at times, it's also an often emotionally rich work, delicately and deceptively told. The film's other strength lay in two of its performances: Sheryl Lee, an illuminating and intoxicating presence, fragile and sensuous; and Terence Stamp, quite extraordinary as the unconventional sex psychologist. The film's major flaw is the casting of Craig Sheffer, a rather insipid performer who seems out of his depth in such an emotionally unravelling part. But it's an insightfully written piece, and one that is unexpectedly intelligent and richly drawn. It remains a mystery why a film that doesn't quite fit into our mainstream consciousness fails to be given adequate support by its distributor. It's a film well worth seeking out."
Paul Fischer

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CAST: Ken Camroux, Lois Chiles, Spalding Gray, Sheryl Lee, Blu Mankuma, Pamela Perry, Craig Sheffer, Casey Siemaszko, Terence Stamp, Leigh Taylor Young

DIRECTOR: Lance Young

PRODUCER: Allyn Stewart

SCRIPT: Lance Young


EDITOR: Allan Lee

MUSIC: Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

PRODUCTION DESIGN: John Willett, David Lloyd Fischer

RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 27, 1997

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020