Director Michael Knowles adapted Douglas Light’s novel, East Fifth Bliss, into his newest film, The Trouble with Bliss. Unfortunately, this bright idea to translate the book to an on-screen version turned out very dim.
Morris Bliss, played by Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”), is a 35 -year-old man who remains stunted in all aspects of his life, and lives with his father (Peter Fonda) who he still calls “Daddy.” Bliss has no job, no income, and what appear to be zero prospects for a future. He falls into an odd relationship with an 18-year-old girl, who happens to be the daughter of a former friend and classmate, while also thwarting off advances of a hot female neighbor.
With New York City as the backdrop and a stellar cast, this film has a lot of potential, but fails to be a compelling story. The trouble with The Trouble with Bliss is that it took on too many familiar cliché’s. At times, it felt like watching an indie experimental film gone wrong.
One of the movie’s main issues is that there aren’t any likable characters, and some of them are just too unrealistic. Case in point is Brie Larson (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), who plays Stephanie, a kooky high schooler who fails to make you understand her choices in life. Yes, she’s quirky, but she’s also plain annoying. You aren’t rooting for anyone to succeed in this film.
The film’s narrative was all over the place as well. Friends pop up, and additional story lines start to develop that don’t add anything to the greater picture.
However, there were a few positive spots in the movie, like seeing Lucy Liu on the big screen again as Bliss’s neighbor. Also, Brad William Henke (Choke) came alive as an old friend who couldn’t get past the “good ole days.” Unfortunately, these strong performances failed to save a film that overall felt forced and contrived.
The Trouble with Bliss releases in L.A. on March 30.