A Look Back at 2005’s Bubble

by Gary Chapman

gchapman@lc.edu

 

WARNING: The following review does spoil the movie, so I guess keep that in mind.

You don’t expect much from Dollar Tree, right? Most people go there to get snacks or to get cheap toys to placate Lil’ Billy temporarily, as it will inevitably break. However, they also have a small selection of DVDs, usually films that no one has ever heard of, like the 2019 German family film “Die Drei !!!” (“The Three Exclamations”), which was retitled as “BFF Detectives,” by Viva Films. But there has been one film I saw at Dollar Tree that grabbed my attention, the cover had doll heads and was in all white. The film was called “Bubble,” and for a dollar, why not?

The film was directed by Stephen Soderbergh, who’s most well known for directing “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” and the Ocean’s trilogy of films. This film, unlike the earlier and later films that dictate his catalogue, is distributed by Magnolia Pictures and HDNet Films, who had signed a deal with Soderburgh for six films, with Bubble being the first. 

The film is also interesting as it stars non-professional actors, with the lead being found at the KFC drive-through and the antagonist being a beauty shop owner.

The film revolves around Martha, a middle-aged, working-class woman who works at a doll factory in the Mid-Ohio Valley while taking care of her elderly father. She works with a shy man named Kyle, who she sees as a friend. After going to church (where a blue light shines on her) a new woman named Rose is hired as a coworker for Martha. Martha takes coldly to her as she keeps demanding favors and she steals from the people she housesits for. 

Kyle takes a liking to Rose, however, taking her out on a date while Martha is put on babysitting duty. After coming back, Rose is confronted by her ex, and her daughter’s father, over money and weed.  Martha leaves, mentioning a bad headache.

It is revealed that Rose was strangled throughout the night, and the detective (who is played by an actual police inspector) interrogates Kyle and the boyfriend. Martha comes to Kyle’s house to bring him a fishing pole she bought for him and is shocked and believes that the boyfriend did it. The inspector asks her some questions and she says that she didn’t do anything,

The inspector comes back a few days later to arrest Martha for the murder, saying her fingerprints were on Rose’s neck. In a deleted scene, it is revealed that Martha has a brain tumor and can undergo dramatic personality shifts (which was referenced with the bad headache). Kyle’s mom gets a job at the plant, and at the end scene, the blue light visits her and she sees her standing over Rose’s body. The film ends after that, clocking in at a short 73 mins. 

The soundtrack throughout the film is sparse, with it being acoustic guitar strumming over certain montages.

The film takes a look at what it is like to live in the area. With Rose’s actress, Misty Wilkens, saying in the behind the scenes that, “You try, you work, you save your money, and you still don’t get anywhere. That’s normal for a lot of people.” According to Martha’s actor, the “bubble” is the Mid-Ohio Valley. 

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