2017 Milwaukee Film Festival – Review – CHASING BUBBLES
When you attend a film that’s part of the Cream City Cinema program at the Milwaukee Film Festival, you don’t normally expect it to be a globe trotting adventure / travelogue / character study. But, that’s exactly what CHASING BUBBLE is, at it’s by turns exciting, funny, inspiring, and altogether human.
CHASING BUBBLES centers around Alex Rust, credited as co-director, a restless Chicago trader who would rather live in a van than plunk money down on an apartment. He came from a family of means, but clearly was looking for more meaning to life and just chucked it one day, bought a sailboat, and with a copy of Sailing for Dummies and little prior experience, he set sail for the Caribbean. Succeeding at that, Alex Rust bought a more capable boat, naming it Bubbles, and set sail on a round the world trip with whomever he would pick up port to port. And, given the modern age we live in, he shot much of it with video cameras.
The film, once it gets to the trip itself, is structured more thematically than as a straight narrative. Sections are on such topics as how much of a party the trip was, the women that came along, friendships made along the way, some of the recklessness and danger of the voyage, and of Alex’s growth and discovery of his own identity. Given that we see talking heads shot clearly after the journey is complete, the film wisely doesn’t try to trick the audience into a state of suspense, but rather simply wants to share the experience.
The footage is often rough, as befits the disposable nature of the cameras bought, but there’s a ton of footage that is captivating and full of life. The goal wasn’t to set any sort of sailing records, but to see the world and meet interesting people. And CHASING BUBBLES captures that part of the journey which is almost always more fascinating that the logistics of sailing. There are lots of interview segments, some perhaps a bit too self conscious and searching for deeper meanings that we can piece together ourselves, but the film is at its strongest when we are just spending time with people all over the world and seeing lands that we don’t normally see.
There’s a poignant denouement to the film, which I won’t spoil, but let’s just say that CHASING BUBBLES captures a full range of emotions. And that’s something a lot of films with much bigger budgets can’t say. I think a lot of people are going to be pleasantly surprised by this film which is a real crowdpleaser. So far, it’s been one of the better surprises of the 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival for me.
CHASING BUBBLES will be showing twice more at the 2017 Milwaukee Festival. The next screening is Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 4 pm at the Avalon Theater followed by a final screening on Sunday, October 8, 2017 at 7:30 pm at the Oriental Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online at the Milwaukee Film Festival website or at box office locations at various venues. The 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival runs from September 28 to October 12, 2017.