A piece of work
Factory employees struggling to get by are the focus of Steven Soderbergh's "Bubble."
By JOSHUA TANZER
A working-class hero is something to be. Well, at least in France or Belgium, where they've been making movies like this for years. In America, labor-related social realism has just arrived in the form of "Bubble," the first in what director Steven Soderbergh promises will be a series of films about American life.
"Bubble" observes the unexceptional lives of three factory workers just getting by in West Virginia. The film (like, for example, "Human Resources" and "The Son" before it) spends some of its time just paying respect to the labor that goes into the product these folks make, which in this case is dolls. Just the fact of how dolls get their eyes is a bit of a revelation in fact, it gets a good laugh when we see it for ourselves.
|Directed by: Steven Soderbergh.|
Written by: Coleman Hough.
Cast: Debbie Doebereiner, Misty Dawn Wilkins, Dustin James Ashley, Omar Cowan, Laurie Lee.
Cinematography: Steven Soderbergh.
Edited by: Steven Soderbergh.
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New York Film Festival 2005|
In the break room, best friends Martha, a middle-aged woman who takes care of elderly dad, and Kyle, a young post-adolescent who lives with his mom and makes just enough to get high once in a while, hang out and chat about nothing during their breaks. They get up and head back to the machinery of dollmaking without resentment and without aspiration either just dutifully doing what they're supposed to do to get a paycheck. Nobody blinks when anybody mentions having to go on ahead to their night jobs when their shift is over. It's just what people do. Parts of what is said seem borrowed directly from Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickle and Dimed to Death," about how people get by working double shifts on laborer's wages in America. These people would never have written that book, though; they don't have the time and they don't reflect on the course of their lives either. They just do it.
This best-friendship is disrupted when a young and fetching newcomer named Rose makes this best-friendship a threesome. Her job includes painting the baby dolls' bright gold lips, which she says will be fine because she used to do some airbrushing at the mall. When she shows some interest in Kyle and betrays some of the suspect motives behind her actions the story begins to turn deadly serious and increasingly dramatic.|
"Bubble," starring non-actors in the smallest of stories, is likely to strike the multiplex-going audience as inelegant. But with Soderbergh's name on it, and with an almost-reality filming style much like (but far down the socioeconomic scale from) the director's HBO series "K Street", it might well have an impact on the arthouse audience and on American filmmaking in general. Meticulously observed stories of the working class aren't just for Europeans anymore.
|OCTOBER 9, 2005|
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