One of those low-budget experiments Soderbergh likes to squeeze in between Ocean’s Eleven projects, this means to take a peek at a corner of America Hollywood usually stays away from: the poor, the unattractive, the Midwestern. Set in Ohio and featuring a nonprofessional cast from the area, Bubble
centers around the odd friendship between an uninspired young man (Dustin James Ashley) and a plucky older woman (Debbie Doebereiner), both of whom have menial jobs at a creepy doll factory. When a young single mother joins the company, the pair’s relationship changes in drastic ways. Soderbergh means to instill these “everyday” characters with their own precious humanity. There’s a striking shot of Doebereiner sitting in church
when all the lights go down except one spotlight on her, highlighting the brilliant blue eyes that are usually lost in her ordinariness. Yet there’s an unmistakable touch of condescension in the film, as well. As Bubble unblinkingly documents the sad homes, cheap meals and
mind-numbing routines that govern its characters’ lives, a sense of pity eventually outweighs one of compassion.