Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Bubble is an astonishingly unnerving piece of humanist cinema. Utilizing non-professional local actors and locations, Soderbergh and writer Coleman Hough have crafted another brilliant entry into the American new-guard arthouse cinematic landscape (following films like Gerry, The Brown Bunny, julien donkey-boy, etc.). Bubble concerns a trio of co-workers in a dollmaking factory. Martha and Kyle have been casual friends (perhaps just a notch above simple co-workers) for a while now. Kyle works a great deal and has saved up money for no real reason. Martha is a perfectly content American middle class worker, on the surface. Rose is the newest member at the factory and is immediately drawn to Kyle. They are both young and attractive. They both smoke. They bond quickly and effortlessly. Martha is left babysitting Rose's daughter. In the film's very brief 70 or so minutes, Soderbergh manages to embed an impending sense of dread in nearly every frame. When a very real tragedy takes place, one cannot help but become self-consciously involved in the proceedings. Discomfort turns to dread. Dread turns to horror. Horror turns to revelation. Soderbergh has not been this in command of his singular aesthetic since his masterpiece, 2002's Solaris. You can trace the evolution of his forays into television (K Street, Unscripted) directly to the earthy naturalism of Bubble. Bresson is here. So is Tarr. So is the always vital Soderbergh.