Bubble is a 2005 drama film by Steven Soderbergh. The plot concerns three workers at a Midwestern doll factory struggling to make ends meet. It stars a entire cast of nonprofessional actors and was shot in HD video.
The film debuted in theaters on the same day that it aired on Mark Cuban's HDNet television station. The DVD was released four days later. For these reasons, many movie theaters caused a minor stink and refused to show it.
Tropes found in Bubble include:
- Chekhov's Gun: The camera lingers on a gold watch in the expensive home that Rose cleans. Later it's revealed that Rose stole the watch, and Martha stole it from her and pawned it.
- Disappeared Dad: Kyle's father is in Arizona and they don't speak. He notes with some approval that at least Rose's ex is sometimes around for his kid.
- Disproportionate Retribution: It's revealed that Rose's murder was the result of Martha being annoyed by Rose's various actions over the last week, including asking her for a ride, not telling her that she was dating Kyle, and snapping at her.
- Fantasy Sequence: When Martha is attending church, suddenly the lighting changes so that she alone, and she is looking into a bright spotlight on her face. In the very end, another bright spotlight flashes on her face, and she turns to look into it. A deleted scene clarifies these: she has a malignant brain tumor.
- Flyover Country: The characters work in a lower-class midwest town. Rose says that she can't wait to escape it, because of the lack of opportunities.
- Green-Eyed Monster: It's implied that Martha resents Rose somewhat because of how Kyle's attention has turned toward her.
- Improbable Food Budget: Martha and Kyle are barely scraping by on menial factory wages, yet they somehow afford to eat donuts and get takeout lunches every day. This might however be cheap unhealthy junkfood, all they can afford and have time for.
- Meaningful Name: The director explains that Bubble refers to Martha's acceptance and comfort in her hum-drum life (and Kyle's dependence on her), which Rose upsets.
- Minimalism: The film has a mumblecore/Dogme '95 aesthetic, with unglamorous characters, settings and subjects taking place realistically. The budget is low and the dialogue is improvised. Although it has a nondiagetic soundtrack, it's a simple acoustic guitar played by a local musician.
- Non-Actor Vehicle: Although several other Soderburgh films star a non-professional actor, this is the only one with a cast entirely composed of them.
- Odd Friendship: Martha and Kyle. She's about twenty years older than him, and they don't seem to have anything in common. In spite of this, Martha tells him that he's her "best friend." They seem to be each other's only friend.
- The Quiet One: Kyle is very quiet and shy due to having social anxiety disorder.
- Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: All of the dialogue is improvised, so it sounds natural and unstylized.
- Red Herring: Rose's boyfriend, who was not responsible for the murder, but sure acts like he is.
- The Reveal: When Martha is in jail, she has a vision of herself standing over Rose's body. She is the murderer, which seems to surprise even herself.
- Sticky Fingers: Rose steals money from Kyle's drawer during their date and a gold watch from the dresser of a house she cleans. Her ex-boyfriend accuses her of stealing from his home as well, which seems likely.