Recommended? Yes, but not necessarily for the usual reasons.
Comments (Special Two-Paragraph Edition!):
First things first. This is an important film because it was released on DVD and pay-per-view at the same time it was released in theaters. (Well, as close as can be, given that movies generally open on Fridays and DVDs hit the streets on Tuesdays.) It is the first film by a major name (Steven Soderbergh) to be released in this fashion. I so wholeheartedly support this concept that I would like it if everyone who read this went out and rented or purchased the DVD and/or paid to see it in the theater. The film industry needs to know both that there is demand for this kind of thing and that it won't ruin the theater business. Everyone should win in this scenario. So see this movie one way or another.
Now, onto the movie itself. It was cast entirely of unknown, apparently untrained actors. This gave it a homey, middle American kind of tone, which really fit the plot well. I actually think this story would have been worse off in the hands of, say, Emily Watson and John Turturro; perhaps that is because it isn't very dynamic to begin with. I'll agree with our local critic here in Rochester, who wrote, "Though [Bubble is] modestly engaging, it is far more notable for the circumstances surrounding the film than for its rather bland story." But I still enjoyed getting to know the characters a good deal. Bubble is a gentle, deliberate film about real people, low income factory workers whose seemingly innocent involvement with each other leads to violence.
Okay, a third paragraph to say this: It's not fair to compare this to Traffic, or any other Soderbergh film for that matter. It's a shame that just about every critic in the world wrote reviews that seem to center on this film's relationship to its director's portfolio, rather than on its own merits. See here for an illustration: notice how many of the blurbs include the director's name.
(For an explanation of the Mini-review series, which really is usually much more "mini" than this, click here.)