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Detropia (2012)



Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 20
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 1,123

My Rating

Movie Info

Detroit's story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now . . . the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos. With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, Detropia sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution. These soulful




Jan 14, 2013


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September 7, 2012:
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All Critics (39) | Top Critics (20) | Fresh (32) | Rotten (6)

A fascinating portrait of a 21st-century post-industrial hellscape.

November 1, 2012 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Detropia's filmmakers stay out of the picture, hanging back to allow the viewer to absorb the meaning of Detroit's fate. It is even more complex than we thought.

November 1, 2012 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A startling, haunting documentary about a once-great city, "Detropia" is all but a eulogy for Detroit.

October 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
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Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, Oscar-nominated for their earlier Jesus Camp, aim a compassionate and artful lens in their new documentary Detropia, finding signs of life in the ruined city.

October 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
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City services are shutting down, schools are closing, houses are being demo'd by the thousands - like lights being turned out one by one, "Detropia" powerfully captures a city fighting not to go dark.

October 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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Artfully - perhaps too artfully - illustrates the transformation of the Motor City from a middle-class utopia to an urban nightmare of blight, crime and fleeing residents.

September 28, 2012 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Detropia is everything you think it's going to be: educational, emotional and highly depressing. Yet, Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing's documentary portrait of Detroit, America's noted city of industry, is not a static picture of decay.

February 28, 2013 Full Review Source:

Bleak but aesthetically quenching documentary on how the once great industrial city of Detroit has in modern times become a car wreck.

January 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A hard-hitting yet lyrical documentary about the current economic woes of once prosperous Detroit, an iconic American city.

December 16, 2012 Full Review Source:

A sobering, sentimental journey through crumbling Detroit -- but one lacking any real intellectual punch.

November 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

The film at its best is a sort of visual essay or tone poem composed of haunting, paradoxically beautiful images of urban ruin that sometimes appears almost post-apocalyptic...

November 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

... will do little for Motor City tourism.

October 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Detropia is a tone poem of a decaying city...

October 11, 2012 Full Review Source: PopMatters

Grady and Ewing, employing the observational, often visually poetic style that has become their trademark, capture this city at a crossroads.

October 9, 2012 Full Review Source: The Washingtonian
The Washingtonian

'Detropia' is a tone poem, an impressionistic mosaic that gives you a sense of the city and a pandemic of pessimism that challenges those who elect to stay.

September 26, 2012 Full Review Source:

The dreamlike visual approach makes for undeniably good cinema but as a meaningful examination of why Detroit unraveled, what it's facing, and where it might go, it's woefully inadequate portraiture.

September 23, 2012 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Audience Reviews for Detropia

Detroit's woes are well known by anyone who pays half-attention to the news. And any red-blooded American is rooting for the revitalization and rebirth of this once-powerful city. The stark contrast of what this city once was and what it has become is the dark side of the American Dream.

Therefore Detroit has proven itself to be more than worthy to be a powerful subject for a documentary. Its struggles beg to be documented and told through the lens of an insightful and thought-provoking filmmaker. That's why "Detropia"'s lack of impact is such a surprise.

Filmed with a feathery touch and told through an arthouse-lens, "Detropia" doesn't cover any new ground. Fans of beautiful cinematography and stylish storytelling will enjoy "Detropia" but if you are looking to learn new things about Detroit or to really feel and understand the true struggles of this once amazing and now dying city, don't bother going to "Detropia".
October 6, 2012
The Gandiman
Tony Gandía

Super Reviewer

"Detropia" is an eye-opening case study of late model capitalism, as the middle class has all but ceased to exist in Detroit. The documentary contrasts the success of Detroit's past with its present lying in ruins and possible bankruptcy with a rapidly decreasing population that currently resides at about 713,000. About the only available jobs involve demolition and salvage, as Mayor Dave Bing remarks that even if people get a good job, they just might be saving enough to move away, anyway. What's striking here is the film also being as interested in the visual side of the equation, exemplified by a sudden cut from an old advertisement showing the shiny highways of the future to a stray dog out in the middle of a street.

What of Detroit's future, if it has one? Mayor Bing has a radical proposal to consolidate the still viable neighborhoods to save on services, including mass transportation, which are in danger of being cut even more. While all of that is going on, the documentary follows a vlogger, a bar owner and a union president who do what they can for their city.(The documentary is dedicated to such civic minded individuals.) This also gives the documentary a street level view of events. What's also interesting and possible optimistic about the 2010 census is that it reported a 59% increase in young people moving downtown, some of whom are artists drawn to cheap housing. In conclusion, the documentary sees more hope in the arts than in the white elephant of sports which is pretty much ignored here since they are probably more of interest to surburbanites.
September 9, 2012
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

No new ground covered in this doc about the demise of Detroit...cue shots of the Ren Cen at dusk with the GM logo ablaze, despairing statistics and the urban porn star - the ubiquitous and spooky Detroit Central train station. Clueless residents, a union president and an irritating video blogger serve as the narrative to the Motor City meltdown that would have been better served with just one voice. No solutions are offered so what is the use...perhaps as an national cautionary tale? (9-29-12)
September 29, 2012
John C

Super Reviewer

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