Bubble is a 2005 movie directed by Steven Soderbergh. I’m going to review it in conjunction with the movie I watched directly afterwards Badlands (1973) because, well, I watched them closely together and they seemed relatable.  Spoilers I guess.

Bubble takes place in a small, rural Ohio town, specifically in a factory that mass produces creepy looking dolls. The two main characters we meet in the beginning are Marthe, a larger middle aged woman, and Kyle, a younger, awkward guy who both work in the same factory together.  Soderbergh used nonprofessional actors hired directly from the area, and the effect works seamlessly since as a viewer you feel like you’re sitting directly in on real lunch conversations rather than a movie (despite high backfire potential, the actors never break character). Soderbergh allows the characters to slurp on huge sodas in the middle of dialog, sometimes even mumbling entire lines. Personally, I found the stunted dialog strangely captivating. Highlight of the movie: a scene in which Marthe is informed about a murder while she sits next to her recently purchased fishing pole with a golden bow on it.  

The first thread between Bubble and Badlands is the redneck characters’ penchant  for cigarettes. In Bubble, Kyle bonds with his love interest over a cigarette break, and in the beginning of Badlands, Kit is denied a cigarette from a coworker as he works the back of a dump truck (also, both couples in both movies ask each other if they’ve completed high school). The main difference between the two movies is that in Bubble, the characters are exceedingly average and true-to-life while in Badlands, Kit and Holly seem almost like celebrities or demigods, especially Kit who draws comparisons to James Dean. Martin Sheen does look like quite the badass in this movie. After watching him run around in the woods like a semi-maniac, I can now understand the trajectory that would eventually bless him with a starring role inApocalypse Now. Badlands has numerous one liners (“when this is over, I’ll buy you a steak”), really cheerful upbeat music to contrast Kit’s killing spree, and also some interesting and thought provoking narrative by Holly, like when she ponders on her existence as she looks through family pictures. Fairly easy decision: Badlands is the way cooler movie.

One other thing that struck me between the two movies - at the end of Badlands, the cops who catch Kit are relatively blasé and friendly with him as if he hasn’t murdered a ton of people. In the same way, when the characters in Bubble are informed of Misty’s murder, no one really has a much of a reaction. In both movies, this creates a kind of surreal and creepy tone.

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