The English title of Henrika Kull’s film Glück limits the meaning to a single implication: bliss, after all, is the extreme, when the German word ‘Glück’ can mean anything from the more ordinary experience of happiness to a simple stroke of luck. The film encompasses as many facets as the word itself as it documents a tender love story between two women.

In a Berlin brothel, Sascha (Katharina Behrens) meets Maria (Adam Hoya, previously seen in the documentary Searching Eva), an Italian newcomer to the scene. The two women are immediately drawn together, attracted by the contrasts between them. Set against the backdrop of sex work, flirtation quickly leads to more. For a while, happiness seems attainable for the pair – in stolen moments at work and nights spent in hotel rooms; but happiness rarely lasts.

Away from the city, visiting Sascha’s young son in rural Brandenburg, the confrontation with their own outsider status – both as sex workers and queer women – causes tensions to rise. Here, the different lives they lead clash in the interactions with the men around them, and the fragile bliss of a new relationship crumbles.

What makes Bliss intriguing is its frank exploration of sex work: long years of research inform Kull’s choices and the gaze of Carolina Steinbrecher’s camera is never one of exploitation or judgement. Instead, the film shows every-day normalcy, be it in bed with clients or passing time in the break room, where real life sex workers mingle with professional actors.

Less preoccupied with conventional plot, Bliss attempts to capture the moments of intimacy between the two women as they fall in love, relying heavily on raw performances from Behrens and Hoya. The strategy is often successful, but some narrative jumps are harder to bridge than others, which ultimately takes away from the film’s resolution.

RATING: 3/5


INFORMATION

CAST: Katharina Behrens, Adam Hoya, Nele Kayenberg, Jean-Luc Bubert, Petra Kauner, Bence Máté, Sarah Junghauß, Mandy Schicker

DIRECTOR: Henrika Kull

WRITER: Henrika Kull

SYNOPSIS: In a world where their femininity is considered a commodity, two sex workers fall in love with each other. Together – and yet each on her own – they experience the one moment when happiness seems possible – but their love is threatened by different ideas of life and their own abysses.

[TRAILER FORTHCOMING]