Bubble is a meandering sad little piece of work which is unfortunate because the TV/Movie release fusion is a great idea. I’m not going to get into the politics of that in this review because I want to give Bubble its fair time in front of the jury. It’s already been judged guilty by me but I owe it nothing less than a full pen lashing.
The plot is of small time America. There are three central characters. One is an older woman who works in a doll shop. The other is a younger guy who works in the same doll shop, but whereas he works on creating the heads she works on painting them. The third lead is a gal who comes to work at the doll shop about fifteen minutes into the film.
The only good mark I give Bubble is the 75 minute running time. It feels like three hours but when you’re done you realize you haven’t wasted too much time in your life, so that’s nice. There isn’t much more to say in a film that never really captures your imagination on any level. It’s got no spark, no heat, no heart, and unlike Rocky it never gains one either.
It’s really hard to say exactly what is so darned annoying about this one without delving into plot points so I’m going to give you an analogy instead. Have you ever had an experience at your local coffee shop or pizzeria in which you hear two people talking and you’re sad that you overheard them? Not that they are rude or anything, more like they are talking about a foot infection and it just bangs home the awesome futility of life. Even worse, when you order the double cheese you’re going to envision his foot on your pizza. It’s just one of those minutiae aspects of life that makes it a little bleaker. If that doesn’t work for you say they’re talking about how dad used to hit mom or something. You just don’t want to be in the situation. Well my friends, Bubble is chock FULL of those moments. It is a string of those moments back to back to back to back to back. You can’t escape. There is only more of it right around the bend.
Actually if the conversations in the movie WERE about how daddy used to drink because you cry they might have had a smidgeon of fun about them, instead they are more about absolutely nothing. Not the fun Seinfeld nothing. The horrible crushing realities of a life where you work in a doll factory and essentially nothing happens are played out with deliberate non-enthusiasm. I guess you could say it’s a prescription for insomnia.
Our friend Steven Soderbergh has a complex. He goes off and makes huge commercial films such as Traffic or Ocean’s Eleven and then he feels compelled to make something small and horrific like Full Frontal or Bubble. In both of these smaller films he’s taking risks because he can but they don’t pay off on any level. I’m all for art house films but Soderbergh isn’t good enough at them at this juncture in his life. I’m not trying to pigeon hole him into films where he has to work with Brad Pitt but rather make it so he quits attempting films that are at their core crazy boring. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.