Jody Balaban (Leelee Sobieski) is a newly minted film school grad who, heady with the success her student film has brought her (an award presented by Garry Marshall!), heads off to Hollywood to find fame and fortune. Instead, she finds doors shut to the newcomer, the closest she can get to a major studio job being a stint directing traffic. But then she is offered a job as an editor. The only problem is, the studio in question is a porn outfit. Her dismay is all the greater since she has been put off sex due to the enormous childhood traumas of having been spanked for asking what a blow job was, and not being able to kiss the boy she had a crush on while playing Spin the Bottle. She takes the job, though, her plan being to shoot her own dream film, a romantic comedy called “On the Virge” (ouch!) on the sly, using the company’s resources at night. Romance, meanwhile, might bloom in her real life, as she finds herself working with porn-director-who-once-aspired-to-something-more-and-is-devastatingly-handsome Jeff Drake (Matt Davis).
Writer/director Julie Davis’s film is, apparently, rather autobiographical, drawing on her own early experiences in the industry. One hopes that she has maintained a healthy artistic distance from her protagonist, because Jody is hard to like. Her naiveté approaches a diagnosable condition, and it is coupled with a prodigious sense of entitlement, artistic self-regard, and snobbery. Though we see her learn to see the porn stars she works with as people and friends, she is so off-putting that it is hard to care enough to be interested in her emotional education. As well, the film itself presents the porn stars as lovable idiots, and so its own point of view doesn’t seem far removed from Jody’s. Furthermore, the look of Finding Bliss is simply not that interesting, making it hard to believe that Jody and Jeff are themselves unsung cinematic geniuses. On the other hand, Kristen Johnston as the porn studio’s upbeat executive is good fun, and brings some snap to every scene she’s in. Overall, though, the piece is simply too smug for its own good.
The image may be a little on the soft side, and the colours, though generally strong, are perhaps a shade darker than ideal. Still, the transfer is a solid one, with excellent blacks and flesh tones, and the only noticeable grain is of the deliberate variety (it shows up in some the clips Jody is editing). The aspect ratio is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.
A good job here, with crisp, clean dialogue and a strong score. The sound effects show themselves off to advantage, too. During a party at Jeff’s place, for instance, the sense of actually being surrounded by people almost palpable. Both 5.1 and 2.0 versions of the score are available.
Deleted Scenes: (14:18) Some of these are also extended or alternate versions. Two of the other extras – “Jody and Parents” (1:08) and “Shake It Up Montage” (1:22) – are more of the same.
Storyboards: (0:49) A very brief slide show, with no comparison to the actual film provided, and so of limited interest.
There’s an interesting premise here, but I found it too difficult to warm up to the protagonist. The curiosity value might be enough for a slow night’s rental, but no more.