July 08, 2004

Virgil Bliss

Jail can become home for many a convict. This is the underlying theme of Virgil Bliss, a film that looks hard at how difficult, if not impossible, it is for an individual coming out of prison to adjust to a life of freedom. Our title character here obviously has some issues with women. He falls hopelessly in love with a woman with whom his only interaction has been paying for a blowjob on the street.

Virgil is portrayed as a basically decent person, who obviously made a couple of bad choices somewhere, and as a result had to spend 12 years of his life in prison. He gets out on parole and is sent to a halfway house for two weeks before he is released on his own.

As the viewer, you find yourself rooting for Virgil, wanting him to do good and not be drawn in by the bad crowd again. However this is exactly what appears to be the unavoidable result of his getting put in a room with a con named Manny, who is breaking all the house rules.

You root for Virgil, but you can't have much faith in him staying out. He's so pitifully out of place in general society. The whore he falls in love with even asks him if he's a retard at one point.

The film is shot documentary-style, and this gives it a great deal of realism. The story is quite believable. That is, until the whore actually starts to respond to Virgil's love and adoration, and tells him she loves him too. But, this just shows that she is as maladjusted to the real world as he is. Virgil's affections are the closest thing to real caring she has experienced, beyond her pimp's violent possessiveness.

Virgil Bliss is my first film experience from the Sundance Channel. Clint Jordan does a great job playing Virgil and Joe Maggio directs. If you get a chance to see this, and you don't mind intense grittiness, I would highly recommend it.

Posted by Wayne at July 8, 2004 01:25 PM
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