Bliss — An Unexpected Movie

I’d had the movie Bliss in my Tivo instant line-up for quite a while and kept avoiding it.  The short blurb provided this:

After it’s discovered that Meryem (Özgü Namal) has been raped, the young girl is ostracized by her family and community, who hold her accountable for the “crime.” To salvage the family name, her father, Tahsin (Emin Gursoy), orders Cemal (Murat Han) to murder Meryem.

I’m not sure how I had happened on the title but I’ve been searching for films from Iran, Iraq, Egypt this past year and Bliss must have dropped into the sweep.  You can see why, with no other information, I wouldn’t be anxious to press Go.  As it was late last night, and I was up, and my wife asleep –who particularly would not be curious to see behind the blurb–  I thought I’d either  give it a chance or delete it.  Am I glad I began.  This is a film I would recommend to everyone, and I do specifically to you, now.

Bliss starts of with one of the most striking opening sequences, by Mirsad Herovic, you’re likely to see in a hundred movies.   The top half of the screen is  filled by an enormous rounded hill. A dark shoreline bisects  the horizontal center and a  perfect reflection of the hill fills the bottom of the screen.  The camera pans to the left showing the shore of the lake, a herd of white sheep in the middle distance and then, rising as it points down, the body of a woman is revealed, splayed like a pin-wheel counterclockwise on the muddy shore.  Back to the sheep, tightly circling clockwise and then the face of the shepherd, lined and unhappy, looking at the body, moving slowly from her socks, along her loose fitting trousers, a bit of upper thigh showing, to her fully clothed body.  Her hair fanned out around her injured face.  Next we see, reflected in the muddy water, the figure of the man walking away, the body drapped over a shoulder like a half empty sack.  He treks in front of a high wall of white cliff dwellings as more people begin to drift into the scene. No one stops him or gathers to ask what has happened.  They look askance, as if they already know.   Beneath all this a beguiling score is playing, partly ominous, partly reflective. And so it begins.

The early part of the film is all in black and white, or extremely muted colors.  The girl Meryem [Özgü Namal] is locked alone in an empty, dirt-floored shack.  Read more of this post