Confucius said “Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see it.” With Rita Osei’s remarkable directorial debut, Bliss!, we get to see many shades of beauty above and beyond the breath-taking coasts of the north east of England and the fjords of Norway, which is saying something.
This South Shields-based coming of age adventure, adapted from Writer’s Guild Award-winning Alex Ferguson’s original stage play, is a love letter to the intensity of teenage experience.
Her older brother Danny (a wonderfully warm and understated performance from Reece Noi who plays Wormtail in Game of Thrones) is dealing with family problems of his own, while her elder sister Jenny, (the luminous Lauren Johns from Pride) is moving out, taking with her Tash’s main pillar of support.
Stowing away on one of the many ferries that orbit her hometown, Tasha goes in search of her birth father, ending up in a children’s home, where she finds friendship and an accomplice to help her escape and navigate her way to her through a strange land and find her father, possibly at a music festival in the hills…
Bliss! is a story of adolescent yearning – for adventure, escape and life lived on your own terms. What it categorically is not, is working class misery porn or salacious teen romance.
The film’s main protagonist, Tasha (a note-perfect performance from Freya Parks) is the middle child in a typical 21st century modern family, with a struggling single mum (Montserrat Lombard from Ashes to Ashes) deadbeat dad (David Leon, RocknRolla, Vera) and older step-siblings eager to flee the nest
When her dad, Charlie, returns home from prison after doing time for his latest violent outburst, Tasha tries to sabotage his attempts at reconciliation with her mum, resulting in a shock revelation that he is not, in fact, her real dad. This news sends Tasha on her own personal odyssey, in search of ‘The Viking’ – a man who worked on the Norwegian ferries that her mum probably met on a booze cruise from Shields to Bergen.