Original Bliss

This cinema adaptation of AL Kennedy’s short story collection from German filmmaker Sven Taddicken is a disquieting investigation into marriage, faith, sex and violence

Film Review by Ross McIndoe | 17 Feb 2017
  • Original Bliss
Film title: Original Bliss
Director: Sven Taddicken
Starring: Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Tukur
Certificate: 18

Helene (Martina Gledeck) flits through her orderly, stylish home. She neatly prepares a meal for her husband, carefully securing it in Tupperware containers and placing it up on the counter for him before moving on to another household task. This scene would be the portait of a rigorously conventional married life were it not for the fact that Helene is performing each of these tasks in the middle of the night, the darkness lending them an uncanny edge typical of suburbia – a perfectly composed surface masking an underworld of violence, sex and existential terror.

Helene has lost God from her life and now wanders through her home in the empty hours, sprawling on the floor like a body awaiting a chalk outline as the TV’s glow flickers across her face. Her husband is all frustration – at her faith, at her lack of sexual interest in him, at her stoic refusal to rise to his bullying taunts. His pettiness explodes into savagery on several occasions; her calm acceptance tells us there have been several more before. She hears of a popular psychiatrist named Eduard Gluck (Ulruck Tukur), a man with an easy charm and an eloquent way of spinning his cybernetic theories into compelling tales. Having lost that sense of narrative from her own world, she seeks him out and they begin a relationship, which calmly strides through spiritual crises and pornography addiction in its quest for something more.

Gledeck and Tukur glide through the film, matching its unsettling calm perfectly in every moment. The further Original Bliss wanders into stranger territory, the less sure director Tukur seems of the material, but the actors' poise and chemistry always pull the film back before it loses itself completely.

Original Bliss screens at Glasgow Film Festival: 19 Feb, GFT, 8.15pm | 21 Feb, GFT, 4.10pm

Read more about Glasgow Film Festival in The CineSkinny – in print at Glasgow Film Festival venues and online at theskinny.co.uk/film/cineskinny