Bubble is a 2005 American drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh about three low-paid doll factory workers, one of whom is murdered. Soderbergh also shot and edited the film under the pseudonyms Peter Andrews and Mary Ann Bernard, taken from his father's given names and his mother's maiden name, respectively. The film was shot on high-definition video.
Bubble is unusual in that it had no traditional script and used only non-professional actors recruited from the Parkersburg, West Virginia and Belpre, Ohio area, where the film was shot. The lead, Debbie Doebereiner, was found working the drive-through window in a Parkersburg KFC. All lines were improvised according to an outline written by screenwriter Coleman Hough, who previously teamed with Soderbergh on Full Frontal. Bubble was the first of six films Soderbergh planned to shoot and release in the same manner.
The film was released simultaneously in movie theaters and on the cable/satellite TV network HDNet Movies on January 27, 2006; the DVD was released a few days later, on January 31. Bubble received a Best Director nomination for Soderbergh at the 2007 Independent Spirit Awards. The score for the film was composed by Robert Pollard, an Ohio native.
In a town near the Ohio River, Martha (Debbie Doebereiner), a homely middle-aged single woman, works at a doll factory and cares for her elderly, disabled father. Martha regularly drives her younger co-worker, Kyle (Dustin James Ashley), to and from work. Kyle is an intensely shy, quiet young man in his early 20s, who suffers from social anxiety disorder and lives with his television-obsessed single mother. Martha, who appears to have no social outlets or friends outside of work, has become attached to Kyle, showing concern for his welfare, trying to draw him out, and telling him he is her "best friend". Although the withdrawn Kyle opens up a little bit to Martha, he does not act as interested in her as she is in him.
In order to meet demand, the doll factory hires Rose (Misty Dawn Wilkins), an attractive young woman Kyle's age who is the single mother of a toddler. Kyle and Rose are mutually attracted to each other, and begin to spend time together during their breaks at work, to Martha's chagrin as she herself is pushed aside and unable to have her usual interactions with Kyle. Martha grudgingly agrees to drive Rose to her second job as a housekeeper for a wealthy client, but Martha becomes further irritated with Rose when Rose takes advantage of her client's absence to take a long bath in the client's Jacuzzi. Rose also claims that a watch she stole from her client was a gift. Martha complains to Kyle about Rose's behavior.
Despite her dislike of Rose, Martha accepts the opportunity to earn some extra money by babysitting for Rose while Rose goes on a date. Martha only learns that Rose's date is Kyle when he arrives at Rose's home to pick her up, causing Martha to become upset. During their date, Rose and Kyle go to Kyle's house where Rose, unbeknownst to Kyle, steals money that he has been saving and hiding away in his bedroom. When Kyle drops Rose off, he decides not to go inside with her because he felt a "weird vibe" from Martha earlier. Right after Rose enters the house, her ex-boyfriend Jake appears and accuses Rose of stealing money and marijuana from his house. Rose and Jake have a heated argument in front of Martha. After Jake leaves, Martha asks Rose if he is the father of her child, and Rose angrily tells her to mind her own business.
The next morning the police arrive at Rose's house after neighbors hear her child crying and call them. They find Rose dead of apparent strangulation, with no sign of forced entry. A detective questions both Jake and Kyle, who each claim to know nothing about the murder. Meanwhile, Martha pawns jewelry (which she says she inherited from family members) and spends the money on fishing equipment and a trip to the beauty parlor. She then takes the fishing equipment to Kyle's house and gives it to him as a gift; he tells her of Rose's murder and, apparently surprised by the news, she says she knows nothing. She is later questioned by a detective and maintains her innocence, even when he tells her that the fingerprints found on Rose's neck match her own. Martha is arrested for Rose's murder.
Kyle visits Martha in prison. Martha pleads with Kyle to help her, swearing she did not murder Rose and doesn't know what happened, though she mentions a headache and Rose's rudeness. Kyle is skeptical of her story. Later, in her jail cell, Martha sees a bright light, followed by a vision of Rose's dead body and herself standing over Rose. Kyle's mother takes Rose's job at the doll factory and Kyle's humdrum life working two jobs continues as it did before.
The DVD release of the film also contains a deleted scene in which Martha has a CAT scan revealing that she has a severely malignant tumor in her brain. The doctor explains that the tumor could cause blackouts and highly abnormal behavior.
Soderbergh was nominated for Best Director at the 2007 Independent Spirit Awards for this movie.