Fans of “The Matrix” trilogy will recognize, early on, that there are some similarities between those films and “Bliss.” Both are about certain people having choices of living in two different existences. Both involve ingesting special drugs to go from one “place” to the other. Both feature a protagonist who can’t figure out what’s going on, then eventually becomes comfortable with his state of affairs.

But the differences between “The Matrixes” and this one are more significant. They are violent, action-filled science fiction-horror films; this is an emotion-filled, multi-leveled fantasy. There’s one other parallel: Neither of them is easy to explain. Here’s my attempt with “Bliss.”

Greg Wittle (Owen Wilson) works at Technical Difficulties, a company with a large, open-seating space filled with people at phones, all of them telling callers, “Sorry you’re having technical difficulties.”

But Greg has a private office, where he ignores his ringing phone and concentrates on making a series of detailed drawings of some kind of vacation spot. He’s caught, he’s fired, he accidentally kills his boss, he runs away, and while all of this is happening, the wallet on Greg’s desk starts flickering, in and out of existence.

Rattled over this turn of events and over a call he did take - from his daughter (Nesta Cooper), who wants to see him - he hightails it to a local bar, where Isabel (Salma Hayek) watches him from afar, then approaches him, then asks if he knows that he’s real.

Owen Wilson has always been good at looking confused and concerned, and he’s very good at it here. “Sorry, do I know you?” he asks. Her answers are to show him that she has telekinetic powers - that she can move objects with a wave of her hand - and a statement: “I will help you because I feel a little responsible for your situation. It’s kind of my fault that this world exists.” That he shouldn’t worry about killing his boss because his boss wasn’t real.

By the time she’s looking at Greg’s drawings and noticing that she’s in one of them, the film has achieved an air of intrigue, and it doesn’t intend to let it diminish.

Soon there are drugs - glowing orange crystals called yellows - that give telekinetic powers to Greg; there’s a throw-away story about Greg’s son (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) who wants nothing to do with his dad because “I can’t trust him anymore”; and some unnecessary - and unexplained - filler about Greg being arrested and immediately released.

Though the story centers on him, it keeps veering off to ponder some of what Isabel does. Is she a part-time hooker? I don’t think so, but there are hints of that. Then it switches over to the activities of Greg’s daughter, who is now searching through the city to find him but who, according to Isabel, is not real.

Greg’s confusion becomes tangible, causing a suddenly distressed Isabel to cry, “I’m worried about you. You’re getting sucked into the illusion and you’re dragging me in with you,” and promising that all will become clear if they take a different kind of crystal - blue ones.

When she and Greg awake, after ingestion, they do so in a different place. The drab squalor of the city has been swapped for some sort of oceanside Eden, where everything is clean and everyone is relaxed and happy. She is now Dr. Clemens and he is now Dr. Wittle. She is poised and maintains an aura of authority. He’s still confused, but is finally convinced that they are “home,” that the city was a simulation, and this is reality (one that looks like his drawings).

The rest of the film consists of explanations. Some make sense, some don’t. Can inventions such as thought visualizers and brain boxes really serve for the betterment of humankind? Is it possible that people will someday achieve a state of bliss? Are the worlds of the city and the paradise starting to collide?

Toward the climax, there are too many things happening at once, and too many questions. The ending can be construed as a happy one, involving a desire for rehabilitation and a family reunion. Is it still intriguing? Yes. But is it real? Maybe.

“Bliss” premiers on Amazon Prime on Feb. 5.
Ed Symkus can be reached at esymkus@rcn.com.

“Bliss”
Written and directed by Mike Cahill
With Owen Wilson, Salma Hayek, Nesta Cooper
Rated R