June 16, 1997 12:00 PM

Craig Sheffer, Sheryl Lee, Terence Stamp

Bliss is anything but. A painfully dull portrait of a marriage, the movie is also a paean to the curative powers of sexual healing—all that’s missing is the Marvin Gaye song of the same name. Bliss goes boringly where no movie has gone before, advocating tantric sex (an ancient Eastern sexual philosophy that puts a woman’s sexual pleasure before a man’s) as a solution to marital problems. For all its frank talk and entwined naked limbs, there’s no steam coming off this one.

Six months after their wedding, a yuppie couple (Sheffer and Lee) sign up for marriage counseling. The wife blurts out that she has been faking her orgasms the whole time. “I just hope you appreciate the risk Maria is taking in communicating this to you,” the therapist (Spalding Gray—how scary is that?) tells the husband. Sheffer next discovers that Lee is seeing a sex therapist (Stamp, at his creepiest). Sheffer also secretly signs on for sessions, during which Stamp asks such probing questions as, “How can you make love to someone else when you don’t love yourself?” Try embroidering that one on a couch cushion.

It’s all pretty embarrassing and completely unconvincing, like a particularly bad episode—which may be a redundancy—of Melrose Place. Bliss is the kind of movie where you find yourself coveting the clothes and furnishings, but you don’t want to spend another minute in the characters’ company. (Not rated)

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