Is it the genius that drives certain people to take extreme measures and great leaps in film making, or could it be intermittent moments of insanity? This is the conundrum left from Bubble, touted as “Another Stephen Soderbergh Experience.” And rightfully so, as it was the first film to be released simultaneously in theaters, on DVD, and on Cable. Significant hype ensued with the involvement of media mogul and eccentric sports franchise owner Mark Cuban. Soderbergh’s Bubble sheds light on a low-income Ohio community where everyone seems to be walking in a daze through their depressed lives. Get ready Hollywood, because this is the real America…
The film’s plot follows two friends, Martha and Kyle through their times working in a doll factory in rural Ohio town. Martha, played by Debbie Doeberener, becomes suspicious when single mom Rose, played by Misty Wilkins begins to move in on her friend Kyle, played by Dustin Ashley. Even though Kyle and Martha are far apart in age, they are paralleled in their situations. They are both victims of the Midwestern economy and the small town life that consumes potential and destroys futures. Kyle’s youth and naivety attract Rose, who seems forward but is not all that she seems. When Rose is found dead in her home the morning after her date with Kyle, three lives are turned upside down in a rush of confusion, deception, and sheer insanity.
Soderbergh’s non-professional cast is the epitome of an uneducated, depressed group of soles whom they portray in the film. Dustin Ashley is morose and slow as the reserved Kyle, whose life consists of saving enough money to buy a little more pot to take the edge off. Misty Wilkins brings the character of Rose that certain “trailer trash” flare that reminds me of Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, but without all the acting. But the show-stopper seems to be the extremely creepy performance of Debbie Doebereiner as Martha. The fact that she plays a character who is a mid-40’s single caretaker of her geriatric father whose only friend is a 20 something kid who works with her in a doll factory is creepy enough, but Debbie has this stare that will, to say the least, haunt my dreams for some time to come. In fact, I may have to see a psychiatrist about it.
Behind the Scenes
To Soderbergh’s credit the film sheds a unique light on the doldrums of a poor town in Ohio. The cinematography is sharp, and the sets really set the mood of depression quickly. For a film shot on such a low budget, it is filmed well and the soundtrack captures very well the mostly choppy dialogue. While the film is very simply shot, Soderbergh does a wonderful job of creating the atmosphere in each scene that keeps you drawn into an otherwise boring storyline.
The Final Cut
To say that Steven Soderbergh is a pioneer of film making is fairly accurate. But to say that Bubble is a masterpiece of low budget, unprofessional film making is stretching it. The movie almost puts you to sleep as it drags on for all of 73 minutes. And while the acting was solid considering the talent, I would not call it Oscar worthy. I give Soderbergh points for the effort, but the plot left so much to be delivered. Worth a see in order to fulfill the hype, but nothing more.
The Upside: A very unique way to make a film. A very different story from your average Hollywood murder mystery.
The Downside: The dialogue is short, choppy, and uninteresting.
On the Side: It was filmed with a cast completely comprised of amateur actors.