image+nation culture queer


Henrika Kull | Germany | 2021 | 90 min | GERMAN S.-T.EN.

Bliss takes us behind the closed doors of a Berlin brothel and inside private, domestic spaces where Maria (performance artist and sex worker Adam Hoya) and Sascha (Katharina Behrens) are free to define pleasure on their own terms. However, used to catering to the specific needs of clients, they are less adept at articulating their own.

Bliss opens with Maria’s eyes red with tears. Hit with an epiphany, she begins to run with breathless purpose until she is standing, yelling up toward a closed window for Sascha. We are then brought into the past, where the lure of one another’s bodies leads to the thornier territory of one another’s minds, and their professional and personal lives intersect in increasingly hard to disentangle ways. Writer-director Henrika Kull complicates the filmic gaze with those of her characters. And her candid vision is at once a conventional workplace drama (in the refreshingly unconventional – for cinema – chambers of sex work) as well as a poetic fever that encapsulates the seesawing affections of ‘unscripted’ love and the many ways of being seen.