"Say what you will about Mr. Soderbergh, but he sure isn't predictable!"
SCREENED AT THE 2005 TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL: Love him or hate him, you just gotta respect the directions that filmmaker Steve Soderbergh goes in. Most directors who make their mark on the indie world get one bite of Hollywood success, and they're hooked forever, never once bothering to look back at the low-budget / arthouse fare that made their name in the first place. Not so for Mr. Soderbergh.Only a guy like Steven Soderbergh would follow up a smash hit like Ocean's Twelve with a micro-budget indie flick full of no-name actors and absolutely nothing in the *flash* department, and regardless of what you think of Bubble (or his last foray in this direction, Full Frontal), it's hard not to offer a virtual pat on the back to a filmmaker who not only remembers his indie-flick roots, but heads back for a visit every few years.
Bubble is the story of two unlikely friends, and the rather distressing turn their lives take when a third party is added to the equation. Kyle (Dustin Ashley) is an aimless but kindhearted young man, and he has an unlikely pal in a middle-aged woman named Martha (Debbie Doebereiner). The duo share a ride to work together, eat lunch with each other, and generally enjoy each other's company, despite the fact that they (probably) couldn't have less in common.
Enter young and pretty Rose (Misty Dawn Wilkins), the newest employee at the Ohio doll factory where Kyle and Martha spend their days. Rose and Kyle strike up a tentative relationship and decide to head out for a date, while Martha is asked to babysit for Rose's 2-year-old daughter.
And then something unexpected and very unpleasant occurs, an event that I'll not spoil here, since it was a plot contortion that I did not see coming -- and was therefore sucked right into the drama with full force.
Perhaps best described as a low-key and non-ironic version of Fargo (and even that's a stretch), Bubble is certainly not bound for cineplex glory, nor is it a flashy and exciting little tale, but it's an 80-minute indie experiment that goes from mildly compelling to surprisingly engaging in rather subtle fashion. The no-name actors acquit themselves exceedingly well, and Soderbergh is crafty enough to tell the story tightly and concisely -- and then roll the credits before Bubble manages to overstay its welcome.So while I enjoyed "Bubble" a heckuva lot more than I really expected to, and I expect it to find a small-but-appreciative audience -- I still have no freaking idea what the title means. Gotta love that Soderbergh guy!