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Bliss (1985)

Sydneysider Harry Joy (Barry Otto) is a successful advertising man, with a nice house, a wife he loves (Lynette Curran) and two children, David (Miles Buchanan) and Lucy (Gia Carides).

After a long birthday lunch, Harry has a heart attack in his garden. He dies – for four minutes – during which time he leaves his body and has a vision that frightens him back to life.

When he is revived, he realises he’s living in hell.

His wife Bettina (Curran) is openly having an affair with his business partner Joel (Jeff Truman), his son David sells cocaine, his daughter Lucy is an addict who gives her brother sexual favours in return for free drugs and Harry’s advertising agency promotes products that cause cancer.

Harry decides to be good when he meets Honey Barbara (Helen Jones), a north coast hippie beekeeper who dabbles in prostitution. He follows her to her commune in the forest and begins the long process of earning her trust, and his own redemption.

Based on a novel by Peter Carey, no Australian distributor would touch the film initially, especially once it received an ‘R’ classification, because of the depiction of incest between Harry’s children, David and Lucy.

The classification was overturned on appeal and the film eventually opened in the smallest cinema in Sydney, a former newsreel theatre with 130 seats.

A couple of glowing reviews helped it to find an audience that kept growing, and when the film won the AFI Awards for Best Picture, Best Direction and Best Adapted Screenplay for 1985, Bliss had become an art-house hit.

Harry Joy
Barry Otto
Bettina Joy
Lynette Curran
Honey Barbara
Helen Jones
Lucy Joy
Gia Carides
David Joy
Miles Buchanan
Jeff Truman
Alex Duval 
Tim Robertson
Adrian Clunes
Bryan Marshall
Jon Ewing
Alice Dalton
Kerry Walker
Reverend Des
Paul Chubb
Harry’s Mother
Sara De Teliga
Harry’s Daughter
Saskia Post
Vance Joy
George Whaley
Robert Menzies
Ken McLaren
Nique Needles
Marco Colombani
De Vere
Tommy Dysart
Paul Bees
Les Foxcroft
Bettina’s Father
Allan Penney
Rob Steele
Hasting’s Daughter
Nicole Black
Paul Kean
Dr. Hennessey
Peter Carmody
David Nettheim
Jack Cheslyn
Mr. Clark
Stephen Wall
Mrs. Clark
Chrissy James
Mike Chandler
Marc Cristan
Philip Dodd
Gerry Corpey

Ray Lawrence