6 things to know about Jerrold Tarog’s ‘Bliss’

Alexa Villano
6 things to know about Jerrold Tarog’s ‘Bliss’
'Bliss,' which stars Iza Calzado, is more than its initial X rating – here's what you should know about the creepy thriller!

MANILA, Philippines – On Wednesday, May 10 Jerrold Tarog’s film Bliss , a psychosexual thriller starring Iza Calzado, opened in theaters nationwide. 

A few weeks ago, however, even the team behind the movie weren’t sure if it could be screened in the country – the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) gave the film an X rating, causing the team to appeal for a second review. (READ: Iza Calzado reacts to MTRCB’s X rating on the movie ‘Bliss’)

The movie was supposedly given an X rating due to prolonged frontal nudity, excessive violence, and masturbation. In Bliss, Jane Ciego (Iza), an actress who is producing her own film, meets an accident that leaves her crippled. Jane finds herself trapped in a house with a husband who doesn’t seem to care and a strange nurse.

 

Bliss, which won Iza the Yakushi Pearl Award (Best Performer) in the Osaka Film Festival, has since received an R-18 classification. (READ: MTRCB reclassifies Jerrold Tarog’s ‘Bliss’ as R-18)

Before you head out to watch it in theaters, here are a few things you should know about Bliss.

1. The audience at a free screening of the movie rated it an R-18.

'Bliss' director Jerrold Tarog. Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

The film’s production team conducted a survey on the film’s rating during a free screening at the UP Cine Adarna on April 3. According to a press release, around 500 out of 770 people voted for R-18, while around 200 said it should be rated an R-16.

After the film was reclassified, Jerrold was asked during an April 25 conference whether he felt vindicated.

He answered: “It’s not so much vindicated, really. Na bigyan ng chance na ipalabas yung pelikula, and also yung fact na meron panel sa MTRCB na treni-treat yung Filipino people as adults and that they don’t look down on them as children.”

(It’s not so much vindicated, really. The film was given a chance to be shown, and the fact that there’s an MTRCB panel that treats the Filipino people as adults and that they don’t look down on them as children.)

2. Bliss is newcomer Adrienne Vergara’s 2nd film.

Adrienne Vergara Photo courtesy of TBA

Adrienne plays Rose/Lilibeth, a nurse who gives Jane a hard time. In an interview with the media during the UP Cine Adarna screening, Adrienne said she was intimidated by Iza.

“‘Di ba, kasi kaharap mo diyosa? Sobrang overwhelming. At least nakaka-proud na maging part, maka-work si Miss Iza and Jerrold. And ang sarap pakinggan ang mga tao. Grabe, very responsive sila.”

(Right, because you’re in front of a goddess? It was so overwhelming. I was, at least, proud to be part of the film, to be able to work with Miss Iza and Jerrold. It’s also so good to hear people’s reactions. They’re so responsive.)

Aside from Bliss, Adrienne also appeared in the TV series Calle Siete and film The Comeback.

3. Iza reunites with Ian Veneracion and TJ Trinidad in the film. 

Iza has previously worked with Ian Veneracion and TJ Trinidad in various other projects. Iza and Ian are currently part of the series A Love to Last and recently did the movie Ilawod. Iza also did a number of shows with TJ, including Beauty Queen.

On working with TJ, Iza said: “We certainly work well together. And definitely during the scene, we give 100 percent. I like to think we’re both generous actors who support each other. And TJ is definitely one of my favorite co-actors.”

Iza said that when she works with TJ, she knows everything will be okay, since he’s a good actor and they trust each other.

TJ added: “This helps also because we’re very comfortable working with each other. So I know what not to do to make her uncomfortable and make the scene still work,” he said.

4. Iza admitted that she had some concerns about showing more skin in the film – which has nudity and violence – because of her endorsement deals.

However, it was all ironed out. “I’m sure na mauunawaan naman nila iyon (they’ll understand that). At saka, hindi naman siya (And it’s not really) real life. Parang isa siyang (It’s like a) video, like it’s a role. So, I’m an actress, what am I to do, like, that’s part of my job. It’s work,” said Iza on the issue.

Iza Calzado Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

On how her international fans would see her after the movie, Iza said she’s more concerned about her supporters in the local scene.

“Internationally, I think they’ll be more open minded… for them to watch Game of Thrones, watch all of these other shows, do they ask about it, nudity and all? No. It’s not something that’s a big deal to them, even. It’s just work, its part of the story. Locally, if you’re thinking about that, I think it’s just time for me to do something different and level up,” she said.

Para sa akin (For me), in terms of fans, my fans are also mature enough to understand that it is work. Hindi na naman ako (I am not) 19, hindi ako (I’m not) 25, I’m a little older than that. I’m a mature woman, I’m an adult making these choices… its part of my job and I think they’re mature enough to understand that.”

5. According to Jerrold, Bliss was inspired by a number of films.

Madami, madami (There’s so many),” he said when asked where he got his inspiration for the script. Jerrold mentioned that Persona (1966) and Misery (1990) were some of his inspirations.

He added: “That, and also stories that I hear about na people na extreme magtrabaho sa industry. Kasi ako mismo, I don’t do 30 hours. Actually, may iba doon galing sa sarili kong panaginip.”

(That and also stories that I hear from people in the industry who work to the extreme. Because I, myself, don’t do 30 hours. Actually, there are some parts of the film that are based on my dreams.)

6. Despite its controversial themes and scenes, Jerrold didn’t intend to send out a message with Bliss. 

Hindi ako gumagawa ng films na meron na outright na message,” he said. “It’s more of try to raise questions with every film that I make. So palagi iyon yung ‘in’ ko na palagi paglabas ng audience sa sinehan, sila ay nagtatanong sa sarili nila, kung ano ba yung nakuha nila sa pelikula. And kung ano yung sinasabi nung film mismo. So wala akong message talaga, pero meron akong tema.”

(I make films with an outright message, it’s more of I try to raise questions with every film that I make. So that’s my ‘in,’ when the audience leaves the theaters, they ask themselves what they got from the film. And what the film itself is saying. So I don’t have a message, really, but I have a theme.)

Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

Iza added: “I think… the question that’s raised, I guess, is are you aware if there is a cycle of abuse in your life and what do you do about it? Do you wake up and do something about it or do you wake up and let things continue? So yeah, it’s the choice you make.”

Bliss also stars Shamaine Buencamino, Audie Gemora, Stephanie Sol, Michael de Mesa, and Star Orjaliza.

Will you be seeing Bliss in theaters? Let us know what you think of the film in the comments! – Rappler.com 

Editor’s note: This story previously said that Calle Siete was a film. This has been corrected. We apologize for the error.

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Alexa Villano

Alexa is one of Rappler's Lifestyle and Entertainment reporters, covering local entertainment news to a wide range of topics from beauty pageants to reality shows.