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Finding Bliss


The adult entertainment subculture is slowly but surely shedding its taboo status. There is still a stigma that results from the mention of adult films or actresses that results in restrictive presuppositions. In Finding Bliss, Jody Balaban (Leelee Sobieski) is left with no other options but to work as an editor for an adult film company, despite her sexual ineptitude as a result of disastrous encounters.

Grade:

Jody is a supremely talented film writer/maker that discovers it is quite difficult to make it in Hollywood. She lands a job as an editor at the Grind with hopes of using their production studios to film her movie. Being thrust into the world of adult entertainment serves as her crash course on sex, as well as her chance to find love.

Bliss provides an interesting look into the world of a film editor, as well as the world of adult entertainment. We see how a film editor works through a film and how someone with a script pushes for someone in a place of power to actually read it. We learn a little about the production of an adult film through scenes in the studio, but rest assured, nothing too in-depth. One aspect I found intriguing was the attention given to female empowerment in the adult film industry. Kristen Johnston’s character, Irene, mentions the fact that she pays the female actors much higher than the men, implying that they actually hold all of the power even if men are in the…ahem…power positions. Jamie Kennedy (not flexing any acting muscles to break his own mold) provides the symbol for male adult actors as simply being a prop to show off the female actors. There is a sense that director, Julie Davis, wanted her audience to be aware that women in adult films are not necessarily degrading themselves, sometimes they choose this profession and enjoy it (and make good money). This point is buried beneath the cliché love story.

The other, and less interesting, part of the film is about Jody finding her sexuality through conversations with Jeff Drake (Matthew Davis) and her imaginations about Bliss (Denise Richards). This is initially interesting when discussing the sexuality of an unsure virgin on the brink of having sex, but dulls quickly once Drake stops playing devil’s advocate. The point is reached where Bliss tries to expose the philosophy behind Jody’s (and thus every young girl’s) hesitation to give into sexual urges too early, but creates a general disinterest.

The underused stars are Kathleen, Jody’s best friend, and Gary, her coworker. They provide most of the comedic banter and actually develop a legitimate bond. Sobieski is convincing when trying to be the hesitant Jody, but when she tries to be the empowered Jody, the scenes fall flat. Matthew Davis is reminiscent of Timothy Olyphant in The Girl Next Door (and they could be brothers) until Drake shows his soft side and the love story dives head first into predictability.

The first half of the movie is much more entertaining than the second. Once you start to think the movie will be lighthearted and fun, you are inundated with psychological theories that begin to weigh you down, which does not fit the plot or the film’s style.

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