A lead character that carries the emotions of any young girl growing up, a series of recognisable characters that celebrate a family unit despite dysfunctional challenges and a storyline that embraces, unapologetically, the struggles facing young girls in society today. Bliss! is a modern-day rites-of-passage adventure that appeals to all ages. By concentrating on the absence of fathers and the impact not just on families but on a girl’s development this story is unique. We are familiar with films that explore the intricacies of father, son relationships or even mother, son or mother, daughter relationships. Bliss! challenges this and offers a unique perspective on the impact of a missing father on their daughters’ life.
You are introduced to the Robson family, living in South Shields on the north-east coast of England. Sixteen-year-old Tasha (Freya Parks), the middle child, is a typical, strong willed yet vulnerable teenager with many unanswered questions about the world and what it holds for her. She discovers, appropriately dramatically, that her mother’s boyfriend, Charlie, is not actually her real father and this, alongside an unhappiness for the circumstances of her life, and that of her siblings makes her determined to track her real father down.
Following an insight offered by her older sister that she remembers a man referred to only as “The Viking” coming around when Tasha was born, she becomes convinced that only he holds the answers she is craving. A beautifully shot scene within the local library consolidates this conviction and she embarks on her adventure of discovery. Tasha is aided and abetted by her younger sister and her brother who has troubles enough himself and is responsible for a parallel storyline of teenage pregnancy and multicultural acceptance.
Leaving her family behind she takes a ferry to Norway. An easy thing to do from South Shields which has historically been connected as a port for shipping to and from the Scandinavian countries. As one would hope, on arrival she is taken into care, where she meets a local girl, Marta. Despite cultural differences and a typically prickly start to their friendship Marta joins Tasha in her search for her father.
A brave, though potentially ill-considered escape from the children’s home finds the girls meeting a Norwegian band, one of whom Tasha believes is her father. The tour though the beautiful countryside of Norway as this storyline unfolds is a visual treat. The poignancy of the simplicity of life, enhanced by music and the gentle development of friendships is a stark contrast to the story unfolding back in South Shields. This includes a death, a birth and a powerful performance by Montserrat Lombard as Tasha’s mother. A character whose complexities and desires mirror many single mothers struggling to keep their families together.
Inevitably Tasha does have to go home but she does so with a knowledge and understanding that has grown her confidence and gives her a security that she has a valid place in the world. The ease in which she, a young girl, strikes out on her own mission with confidence, whether blind confidence or not, is inspirational and empowering to any viewer. The unknown should not deter exploration, in fact if you recognise that imagination is always worse than reality you are able to undertake any adventure and take those steps forward to ultimately find your true self.
The film is beautifully shot throughout. The Norwegian scenery is breathtaking and the beaches and cliffs of South Shields very picturesque in the North English sunlight. All complimented beautifully by the music score composed by Ivor Novello nominated & Founder of Hollywood Elite Composers, Hélène Muddiman.
Bliss! is the first feature film from Director and Producer Rita Osei, which she developed with Writer’s Guild Award winning writer Alex Ferguson and 1988 Academy Award Short Film nominee Jenny Wilkes.
Cast: Freya Parks (Les Miserables, Jane Eyre, Creation) David Leon (Vera, RocknRolla) Montserrat Lombard (St. Trinian’s, Ashes to Ashes) Reece Noi (Hit & Miss, Game of Thrones, Grange Hill) Lauren Johns (Pride, Here and Now) Philip Correia (The Hunters, Doctors) Natasha Haws (Singer / Songwriter) Gitte Witt (The Sleepwalker, The Impossible) Elvira von der Lippe (Eyewitness) Lars Arentz-Hansen (The Beach, Big Trouble)