Bubble (2006)

Genres - Drama, Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Americana, Tragedy  |   Release Date - Jan 27, 2006 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 73 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Perry Seibert

Although he is capable of flashy Hollywood entertainment like Ocean's Eleven and Erin Brockovich, Steven Soderbergh is an arthouse director at heart. Bubble, like his earlier films Schizopolis and Kafka, finds him at his most formally adventurous. Shot entirely on digital video with a cast of amateurs, the film offers a bleak portrait of a middle-age woman named Martha (Debbie Doebereiner) so used to her quiet life that she is unable to function when she experiences passionate feelings. The style of the film lets the audience feel the same day-to-day drudgery that the characters do, while the doll factory where they work offers just enough creepy images to offset the boredom. The performers are all flat, but they have been directed to be so. Soderbergh knows exactly what he is doing, and allows the viewer to fall into the unique pacing of the film and performances with ease. Since the plot is so simple it would be easy to think of Bubble as a case of style over substance, but as with most good films, the fact is the style informs the substance. With this haunting minor-key drama, Soderbergh once again shows that he is among the most cerebral and challenging American filmmakers of his era.