The title of the film provides a glimpse into the fragility of the hollow, empty life led by the main character: a middle-aged airbrush operator at an Ohio doll factory named Martha (Debbie Doebereiner) who takes cares for her invalid father, shuttles her car-less, twentysomething best friend and fellow factory worker Kyle (Dustin James Ashley) to his second job in neighboring West Virginia, and spends her evenings sewing doll clothes. It is a predictable routine that is soon perturbated when the company foreman hires a second airbrush operator named Rose (Misty Dawn Wilkins) to ramp-up production for a large order, a nebulous, young single mother with a penchant for stealing. Shot with a cast of non-professional actors, Steven Soderbergh’s low budget indie film Bubble has the signature look – and rides the familiar clichés – of an independent film set in rural America: pot-smoking, high school drop-out blue collar workers, dysfunctional family lives (burdensome and unemployed parents, volatile ex-boyfriends, a steady diet of fast food), and distended sequences of dead time. Skirting the narrative and muted emotional arc of monotonic ritual, betrayal, and senseless violence, the characters’ lives – like the film itself – are reflected in the dolls of their creation: fractured, colorless, inanimate, and underformed.
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