The cultural dissonance of E.U. aspirant Turkey gets a schematic, distractingly picturesque treatment in this tale of a teenage rape victim escaping a shame-enforced death condemnation. When Meryem (Namal) is found bloodied and senseless by a lake, male relatives summon serviceman cousin Cemal (Han) to remove her to Istanbul and perform the honor killing. He balks, the pair abscond to a friend’s fish farm, and a wealthy free-spirited professor (Bulut) turns up in a boat to wow them with his gender-blind modernity. Turkish tensions over cosmopolitan bubbles, Kurdish separatism and intrafamily religious rifts are woven into the drama for good measure.
It might sound strange to call a movie about an averted honor killing overwrought, but director Abdullah Oguz skimps on the connective tissue between stilted flare-ups and paranoid outbreaks. Though Cemal revealingly clings to repressive tendencies while hiding out with Meryem, his character never jells and, like the wandering academic, turns on a dime as the script demands. Cinematographer Mirsad Herovic captures crisp vistas of mountains and waterways, but the grandeur ignores the story’s needs. The movie could use more genuinely thorny moments, like when a bikini-clad student visits the prof and his flustered fugitives. Instead, Bliss gets a cheapening thriller climax that presses the cruel family patriarch into villain duty.