If you missed June’s The Stoning of Soroya M., here’s another chance to be reminded of murderous misogyny in another Muslim community—this time, in Turkey. Based on a 2002 bestselling novel by Zülfü Livaneli, Bliss creakily illustrates the clash between ancient, abhorrent custom and modernity. Found unconscious by the side of the road in her village, 17-year-old Meryem (Özgü Namal) is held responsible for her own rape; a distant cousin, Cemal (Murat Han), is summoned to take her to Istanbul to perform the “honor killing” for shaming her family. The conflicted brute can’t bring himself to murder Meryem, and soon, the two join Irfan (Talat Bulut), a sociology prof they meet while working at a fish farm, on his yacht in the Aegean (filmed quite prettily by Mirsad Herovic) so that enlightenment can be taught as characters calcify into constructs. Though calling out the abominable oppression of women, even in a vehicle as didactic as Bliss, serves at least some redeemable purpose, the mission is more than a little compromised when it’s suggested that Meryem could find happiness with Cemal—the man who, after he decides not to kill her, settles on verbally and physically abusing her.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 4, 2009