Bubble - Burst

Alliance Atlantis
Duration: 73min
Category: Mystery
Available: On DVD
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When Steven Sodorbergh announced that he was going to shoot bare bones films with non-actors and release them in all formats (cinemas, DVD, pay-per-view) simultaneously, I was worried he was going all Van Trier on us. While I have never been a big fan of Sodorberghís work, I rarely hate his filmsÖ except Full Frontal. I truly despise Full Frontal.

Bubble is the first film done in this manner and itís a weird little experiment of a movie that doesnít quite work but isnít a total waste to watch. Itís the story of a murder in a small town but itís not really much of a mystery. Like Match Point itís more of the exploration of the event of a murder.

We follow the quiet and rather sad lives of three characters who make their living in a doll factory until one of them ends up dead. Unfortunately, the killing and the motivation of the killing are never really explored beyond the surface so the film feels rather artificially constructed. This is only emphasised by the lack of experience of the cast. Maybe if real actors had been in the film, they would have infused their characters with a truer spark. Instead, Bubble has the feeling of a high school production with glossy, well lit production values.

Sodorbergh has cast only non-actors. The DVD version of the film allows you to see their real lives explored in the special features as well as their audition tapes. Each of the principles is almost exactly the same person they play in the film and were cast as such. Much of their charactersí back stories are based on their real lives and the cast adlibs a great deal of the dialogue. This part of the experiment doesnít really get the film very far. The dialogue is as boring as a real life conversation.

Itís not all bad news, the real treat to watch is newcomer Debbie Doebereiner who plays the filmís answer to a protagonist. She has a face you wonít forget and a wonderful screen presence that is a kind of awkward patheticness. She also seems to be the only cast member who is acting. Her real life persona is much moreÖ well, bubbly.

Sodobergh uses a lot of indie-hallmarks in Bubble such as still wide shots to establish place and mood. He is successful in creating a real sense of time and place and sad stillness. He just isnít very successful at investing us in this story.

Bubble as an experiment doesnít quite work and as a film wonít be one of his most memorable efforts. I worry that since he has done little to make this effort known in the public conscious that it wonít be very successful as film making statement either.

Review By: Collin Smith

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