Trouble the Water Reviews
The film takes several pot shots at the Bush Administration and the local governments in their handling of the disaster, and it sets up its primary subject as a hero, a survivor in the face of unimaginable hardship. Politically, I agree with the film's disdain, and although it took me a while to like Roberts, by the end of the film, I admired her even if I don't know how long we could sustain a conversation in real life.
Overall, it's biased, but Trouble the Water is ultimately an important film.
What makes this version of a "Katrina Story" so powerful, is that it is a story that is shot from "the inside". And by "the inside" I'm not only refering to the gut wrenching footage that was shot on home video pre, during and post Katrina. I also use that term to describe the view it provides into the heart and soul of the poverty stricken 9th ward, where most of the damage took place.
While this is presented as the story of one woman, I think that the story is (sadly) global. The difference is that most stories involving similar circumstance, don't inspire as much hope.
The heroine of this story is a survivor. Someone who has been dealt one difficult hand after another, but who has been blessed with just enough spiritual fortitude to allow her to persevere.
It's hard to look into her eyes and her heart (not to mention those of her friends, family and neighbors) and not be touched by their spirit. They have (for the most part) all been relegated to this life, mostly due to lack of education and/or opportunity. And then disenfranchised and demoralized by society.
As a (pre Katrina) resident of New Orleans for several years I must point out that much of what is said in this film about the failure of city and national government in regards to American citizens that (for whatever reason) have fallen into poverty, can be applied (to some extent) to every major cities across America. This is not simply a New Orleans story, it just happens to take place there.
Katrina served as a wake up call to America (and the world). Ripping the tattered bandage off of this festering wound (poverty) on the soul of America and exposing the fact that our governments incompetence goes far beyond foriegn affairs.
As difficult as it is to accept, what is important now is that we remember, what was revealed to us when the storm passed. And more importantly, that we make sure that the people who we elect to represent us...also remember.
I would have liked to have seen more individual stories of hurricane victims, but instead, we are given only one story -- that of Kimberly Rivers Roberts. This is because the majority of the documentary's footage is Kimberly's own. (Never mind the fact that I wondered for long periods of time how it was that she came in possession of a video camera, how she paid for the tapes, and how she kept the footage from being destroyed.) Because this large-scale disaster is only shown through the viewpoint of one person, it is similar to a "Night"-like approach to the Holocaust in that its humanity lies in focusing a huge tragedy down to the personal touch of witnessing one person's experience with it.
Personally, I wanted more than just Kimberly's story, as compelling as it was. For this reason, I much preferred Spike Lee's more expansive look at Hurricane Katrina for HBO, "When the Levees Broke."
"Trouble the Water" was nominated for Best Documentary Feature this year and was considered to be a sentimental favorite, though it lost to the much better (if you ask me) "Man on Wire."
I think people should watch this film to really understand the situation from a zoomed-in point of view. But my brain wanted to tackle the politics of the debacle, the scope of the chaos and the heartbreak of the devesation with more expanse that this film aimed to provide.
All of this is to say that for what it was, "Trouble the Water" was very good. I struggled because of what it wasn't that I was looking for instead.
The film is a powerful first-hand account of the events leading up to, during, and after the hurricane Katrina disaster. As a tale of heroism during natural disasters, the film works charmingly well; as we are right in the middle of the storm with it's survivors' amazing footage. As a tale of the physical, mental and spiritual destruction that succeeds a natural disaster, the film works as equally well, as we follow one family through the most difficult times of their lives, it's heartbreaking and somehow uplifting at the same time.
However, as a political statement on the realities of the bureaucratic ideals of New Orleans, Trouble The Water is an important film. Why is it that during one of the most tragic natural disasters in the history of the United States, an American citizen is treated like an unwelcome guest, or that a tourist attraction is cleaned up and rebuilt so that the wealthy can relax, while at the same time impoverished homeowners' neighborhoods are left to rot and fade from memory. It's priorities such as these that need a remedy.
Trouble The Water is a powerful document of heroism and bureaucratic injustice, thats neither preachy nor unnecessarily depressing.
This is a very interesting documentary, where a New Orleans resident gets a video camera during Hurricane Katrina and the terrible aftermath.
At first Kimberly Rivers Roberts is getting the hang of holding the camera still, but she is showing us a view of the 9th Ward and their occupants, that most of us never got to see. Her old man, Scott Roberts helps. We really start to get to know these people.
While the people who can afford to evacuate, are doing it, the poor resolve to hunker down and hope for the best. Like we, on the West coast think that we'll do alright on an earthquake until a richter 6+ hits, these guys are worrying when the flood waters reach the attic floor of their shotgun house.
The movie is interspersed with scenes from the news services, and audio from the 911 dispatcher, giving us yet another view of the aftermath. Stuff like not getting any help or rescue efforts, as well as no food, drinkable water or shelter. An empty Naval base is guarded to keep out the homeless.
The whole 9th Ward is basically treated like an impoverished third-world country and war zone, that our own country wants to completely ignore. Ironically, the rest of New Orleans wants it to be "Business as Usual".
The thing that I didn't particularly like about the movie, besides the fact that we get to see Kimberly gain about 30 pounds throughout the length of the film, but the movie begins to get slicker and Kimberly goes Hollywood with self-promotion as a rapper artist. But, most of the movie is well worth you checking out.