Starring: Owen Wilson, Salma Hayek, Madeline Zima, DeRon Horton, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Joshua Leonard, Nesta Cooper, Steve Zissis
OUR RATING: ★★½
Amazon Prime’s sci-fi drama written and directed by Mike Cahill. The story centers on recently divorced Greg (Owen Wilson), who, after recently being divorced and then fired, meets the mysterious Isabel (Salma Hayek), a woman living on the streets and convinced that the polluted, broken world around them is a computer simulation. Doubtful at first, Greg eventually discovers there may be some truth to Isabel’s wild conspiracy.
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Our Favorite Quotes:'The thing is that it's amazing how easy humans can get used to even something spectacular.' - Isabel Clemens (Bliss) Click To Tweet Most people say, ”Ignorance is bliss.” But I say, you have to experience the good to appreciate the bad.' - Isabel Clemens (Bliss) Click To Tweet 'Bliss is not a feeling. It's not a place. Bliss is a state of mind that can only be achieved by understanding the contrast with the opposite state of mind.' - Isabel Clemens (Bliss) Click To Tweet
Greg Wittle: I have a picture in my head of a place. Home. A woman. I don’t know if any of it’s real. But it has a feeling, and the feeling’s real.
Emily Wittle: [on the phone] I wanted to talk to you about my graduation.
Greg Wittle: I can’t believe you’re graduating.
Emily Wittle: Can’t believe? Really?
Greg Wittle: Oh, it’s hard to keep track of the time, but I’m really proud of you.
Greg Wittle: I have so many thoughts I wish you could see.
Emily Wittle: Are you sure you’re okay, daddy?
Greg Wittle: Yes, I’m better than okay. I’m great.
Bjorn: Look, there’s no easy way to tell you this, but you’re fired. Greg, you’re fired. Greg?
[Greg just stares]
Bjorn: The inside of your head must be amazing. This is the beginning of your new life.
Isabel Clemens: You’re real.
Greg Wittle: Sorry?
Isabel Clemens: You know you’re real, right?
Greg Wittle: I’m sorry, do I know you?
Isabel Clemens: You deflected my powers.
Greg Wittle: I’m sorry?
Isabel Clemens: Stop apologizing.
Greg Wittle: I’m not apologizing. I don’t hear you. I can’t understand what you’re saying.
Isabel Clemens: I don’t recognize you.
Greg Wittle: I don’t know you.
Isabel Clemens: It’s always blurry at first.
Isabel Clemens: I am going to help you because, personally, I feel a little bit responsible for your situation.
Greg Wittle: Why do you feel responsible?
Isabel Clemens: Let’s just say it’s kind of my fault this world exists. Don’t worry about it. It’s going to be okay. I’m going to fix it.
Greg Wittle: You keep saying “real”. What do you mean by “real”?
Isabel Clemens: You see all these people outside? They’re not real. The bartender, not real. Nothing, nothing, nothing of this is real. There’s very few of us.
Greg Wittle: I think you need help.
Isabel Clemens: No, you need help.
Greg Wittle: How do you know my name?
Isabel Clemens: I took it from your mind. I’m just kidding. The bartender just said it like a minute ago.
Isabel Clemens: The world is simply light bouncing around your neurons. It’s manufactured and malleable. You’re free.
Isabel Clemens: Dude, you’re homeless.
Greg Wittle: The reason why I’m not going home is because I’m recently divorced.
Isabel Clemens: Okay, then just stick around until things cool off. And then you can go get your wallet, get yourself a house, or a new wife, whatever it is that you want to do.
Isabel Clemens: [to Greg] See, I’m not homeless, just off the grid. I am offering you a safe place to hide out. Take it or leave it. Okay? I’m not going to be begging. It’s not like I enjoy your company or anything.
Greg Wittle: I do feel bad about Bjorn.
Isabel Clemens: Of course you feel bad.
Greg Wittle: Well, because he was, you know, he was not a horrible guy. He could be, actually, a pretty nice guy sometimes. He let us wear shorts sometimes to work. You know, in the summertime.
Isabel Clemens: No, I understand. I mean, I understand how you must feel. You killed a nice guy that let you wear the shorts. And you think it’s real. But you know what? You just have to observe the feeling, and then let it go.
Isabel Clemens: Do tell me about this dream home.
Greg Wittle: It’s just this persistent fantasy that I can’t shake, where I’m always drawing this little abode that’s on a peninsula, and I completely get lost in it.
Isabel Clemens: [referring to his drawings of his dream home] Greg, where do you think this is? Where is it?
Greg Wittle: Well, it’s right in the brain-powered mind of Greg Wittle.
Isabel Clemens: [referring to his drawing] And who’s this?
Greg Wittle: I kind of forgot that one was in there.
Isabel Clemens: That is me. Look at her face. You drew me. Greg, this is not a fantasy. This is our real life, outside of here.
Isabel Clemens: You’re my guy.
Greg Wittle: I’m your guy?
Isabel Clemens: You’re my guy. Kiss me.
Greg Wittle: I’m a little disoriented, but in a good way.
Greg Wittle: [after Emily finds him in the street] Graduation. Oh, my God. I did not forget, and I’m definitely going to be there. And I want to take you, and Arthur, to Cliff’s Edge, with your mother, if she’ll allow it.
Emily Wittle: I already graduated, dad.
Greg Wittle: What?
Emily Wittle: Like two weeks ago.
Kendo: [referring to Greg] Is he real?
Isabel Clemens: Wouldn’t you like to know.
Isabel Clemens: Who was that?
Greg Wittle: That’s my daughter.
Isabel Clemens: Ignore her. She’s not real.
Greg Wittle: Why would you say that?
Isabel Clemens: Because it’s the truth. What do you want me to say? I’m not making this s**t up.
Greg Wittle: Here, give me one of those.
Isabel Clemens: I thought you didn’t want any.
Greg Wittle: Yeah, people make mistakes. I made a mistake. Don’t make me beg.
Isabel Clemens: [to Greg] Look at you. You’re like the telekinetic warrior!
Isabel Clemens: [to Greg] You’re getting sucked into the illusion, and you’re dragging me in with you. I know this is not real, and I can barely breathe. And my stomach is turning, and my skin hurts, and I feel like I’m drowning. And I know this is not real! You are getting seduced by the simulation, and I’m losing you.
Isabel Clemens: You’re my soul mate. You can’t just walk away, and think that you can disconnect from me. If you could see the difference between what’s real, and what’s illusion, you’d know that. And you’re supposed to know that by now.
Greg Wittle: How am I supposed to know? You’re the one telling me he’s real, and she’s not real. And then I have to take your word for it, right? That’s really your trick, is it forces me to depend on you. No, no, no. It’s very clever. It makes me believe in you. But guess what, I don’t believe in you. I’ve never believed in you. How could someone believe you? Tell me something that makes me believe in you. Show me something.
Isabel Clemens: We have to exit this stupid simulation.
Greg Wittle: Is it safe?
Isabel Clemens: Kind of.
Liang: [referring to the simulation] Well, if you don’t mind me asking, what did this one feel like?
Isabel Clemens: It wasn’t war, or extreme poverty, but, hell, it was icky. I’m so glad to be able to breathe this fresh air.
Isabel Clemens: [after Greg awakes from the simulation] There’s my guy. Welcome home.
Greg Wittle: What’s a FGP?
Isabel Clemens: [to Liang] Note the memory gap.
Greg Wittle: You said “FGP.” You were…
Isabel Clemens: Yes, it’s short for “fake generated person”. Only these volunteers are real.
Liang: [as Greg sees Emily on the computer] Some FGPs are more convincing than others.
Isabel Clemens: What do you think?
Greg Wittle: I think this place is overwhelming.
Isabel Clemens: Good overwhelming, or bad overwhelming?
Greg Wittle: Great overwhelming.
Greg Wittle: What is with the hologram, or the ghost people?
Isabel Clemens: Oh. Telepresence. It’s all the rage these days.
Isabel Clemens: Your memory’s not back.
Greg Wittle: No. Is that bad?
Isabel Clemens: I was so scared to lose you. I made an irresponsible and stupid decision. We shouldn’t have exited like that, without the appropriate dosage. And maybe it might not come back.
Greg Wittle: Who cares? I love not remembering this place, because I get to discover it all again. I’m walking around just like a newborn, experiencing all of this beauty for the first time.
Greg Wittle: Has it always been like this?
Isabel Clemens: No. This place was actually much worse than the one we just exited. It got so bad. I mean, pollution was to a degree that people would just drop dead on the street, and the level of poverty was insufferable.
Greg Wittle: Looking at this, I can’t picture that.
Isabel Clemens: Science saved the world. Synthetic biology fixed all the environmental problems. And asteroid mining brought mountains of new money. And the guy that had the company for the asteroid mining…
Greg Wittle: That guy.
Isabel Clemens: Yeah. He just started giving all this free money away.
Isabel Clemens: And, of course, then the robots, they started doing all the boring and tedious tasks. We had the freedom and the time to explore our passions. Science, art, whatever, whatever you wanted. We went from a broken world to a beautiful, sustainable, safe, peaceful Earth. You have to admit, this is spectacular.
Isabel Clemens: The thing is that it’s amazing how easy humans can get used to even something spectacular. Most people say, “Ignorance is bliss.” But I say, you have to experience the good to appreciate the bad.
Greg Wittle: No, the other way around.
Isabel Clemens: Exactly.
Esteemed Guest: What if this is the real life in hell? And what if, in hell, from time to time, some devil’s representative comes to the people having a good time there, and tells them, “Listen, guys, now we will be for a quarter of an hour observed by heaven. So please pretend that you suffer.”
Chris: Hey, I’m glad I caught you alone. There’s something I want to tell you. Word on the street is there have been problems with Isabel’s research. You heard anything? You know anything about that?
Greg Wittle: No. I’ve gotten a good feeling.
Chris: Okay. We all want her to succeed, but this is her reputation on the line.
Greg Wittle: I’m here, and I believe in you. Right? I believe in everything that you’re doing.
Isabel Clemens: Your patience with me is a thing of beauty.
Esteemed Guest: My grandmother used to say, “The universe is sitting on the back of a tortoise.” And I would ask Granny, “What is that tortoise standing on?” She replied with quite confidence, “Another tortoise. And that one stands on another tortoise. And that one, another tortoise.” It turns out it’s turtles all the way down.
Greg Wittle: Just stop doubting yourself. Why do you care so much what they think? Put it out there. They’re going to think it’s great. And if they don’t…
Isabel Clemens: And if they don’t?
Greg Wittle: Then here we are, right here, together. Weren’t you telling me that we were soul mates?
Dr. Huang: Our presenter, Dr. Isabel Clemens, pioneered brainbox simulations, ugly, simulated worlds that users can jack into in order to generate appreciation for the real world.
Isabel Clemens: What is bliss? Bliss is not a feeling. It’s not a place. Bliss is a state of mind that can only be achieved by understanding the contrast with the opposite state of mind.
Isabel Clemens: [as she’s interviewing him on stage] Any complaints, Dr. Wittle?
Greg Wittle: No. None at all. I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven. Without the dying part.
Isabel Clemens: [referring to Greg] Well, as you can see, this once frustrated and grumpy man, is now a man full of wonder and appreciation, and a hunger for tasting every breath of life.
Greg Wittle: I don’t think I have a real daughter out here in the real world.
Emily Wittle: Your name is Greg Wittle. You have a son and a daughter. Arthur and Emily. You’re not thinking clearly, because your head’s not on straight.
Greg Wittle: It’s just hard to figure out what’s what. Because it starts to feel like there’s, like it’s almost like a trick being played.
Emily Wittle: One of these days, you’re going to have to choose between these worlds. And maybe, somehow, to you, they’re both real. So just do what’s best for you, okay?
Isabel Clemens: [back in the simulated world] We’re f***ed.
Greg Wittle: Yeah, what does it mean?
Isabel Clemens: We’re so f***ed. It means that one of us gets to go home, and the other one gets stuck in this place.
Greg Wittle: I have an idea. What if you kill me? Yeah. Look. Take this. Just crush my skull, and then I meet you back there. I’m not staying here.
Isabel Clemens: That’s bulls**t. I’m not going to do that.
Greg Wittle: Why?
Isabel Clemens: What if it doesn’t work?
Isabel Clemens: [as they’re surrounded by the cops] We’re in a pickle. We’re in a pickle, baby.
Greg Wittle: Yeah, we’re in a pickle.
Isabel Clemens: It’s my fault. I created this. I created this s**t. Just me.
Greg Wittle: But it’s also kind of beautiful. It is.
Greg Wittle: [to Isabel] That’s what I love about here and what you created. You don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s f***ed-up. And it’s great. And I’m not leaving. I’m not leaving.
[after Isabel reluctantly leaves Greg in the simulation and he ends up in rehab]
Group Leader: In this house, there’s no stigma for what you’re going through. Every person on this planet can relate to wanting to chase bliss.
Greg Wittle: [holds up a photo of Emily] This woman says she’s my daughter. And I believe her.
Greg Wittle: [in the simulated world Greg meets with Emily] Sorry I’m late. I saw these flowers on the side of the road. I thought they looked nice, I guess.
Emily Wittle: You’re not late, dad. You’re here.
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