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East Fifth Bliss

East Fifth Bliss
Directed by: Michael Knowles
Screened at: NBFF [April 28th - May 5th, 2011]
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Making its world premiere as the Newport Beach Film Festival 2011 Opening Night Film, East Fifth Bliss tells yet another tale of a dorky homebody with no income, no personality, and no interesting aspects nor prospects, yet manages to be the sane one amongst people who are smarter and more attractive.

Morris Bliss (Michael C. Hall) is in his mid-30s, unemployed and still living at home with Dad (Peter Fonda). Morris cannot even do simple tasks around the home like purchase groceries, let alone find a job or visit all the places he wants to around the world. Drifting in an asphalt jungle, Morris, despite his pathetic situation, has lots of people interested in him. NJ (Chris Messina) lives a life of adventure and intrigue but is always too frugal to prohibit Morris from buying him a beer. Stephanie (Brie Larson) is a schoolgirl half his age with attractive attributes yet can only reduce her young self to seduce Morris. Morris' neighbor, Andrea (Lucy Liu) also comes on to Morris because, oh I do not know, because he talks?

There is no reason any of these people should draw themselves to Morris anymore than Stephanie's father, Steven (Brad William Henke), should, but it sure provides for some comedy, plus far too many coincidences, too.

Directed and co-written by Michael Knowles, based on the novel by co-screenwriter Douglas Light, East Fifth Bliss, to its success, relies greatly on the dialogue and performance of a strong cast. The storyline is thin and familiar and the ending is patronizing, yet the individual scenes between Morris and company and the banter delivered by the likes of Larson and Liu save this film from being subpar. As usual, Henke gives a stellar performance.

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