Trouble the Water - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Trouble the Water Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 11, 2012
Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her family survive Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath.
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.
Super Reviewer
September 11, 2008
While this is a bit too (understandably) biased to be labeled a true is still quite a powerful look at one of the most horrific events in recent American history.

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.
Super Reviewer
July 7, 2010
"Trouble the Water" is a documentary about Kim and Scott Roberts who lacking transportation decided to ride out Hurricane Katrina in their home in New Orleans, stocking up on supplies and filming home movies before, during and after. Luckily, they made it not only out of their home alive after the levees broke, first from their attic, then to a neighbor's home on higher ground and later 220 miles away to Alexandria, La. The movie speaks not only to their harrowing journey of survival but also to the unpreparedness and intransigence of the authorities who were seemingly more interested in protecting property than saving lives. More help came from families and friends but only the government can work on the huge scale required.(There are many invocations of religion which speaks to the general helplessness of the situation.) Such laissez-faire attitudes are also the indirect cause of the oil spill that is currently causing so much damage in the gulf coast. The documentary squanders its excellent point of view by focusing more on the familiar larger story, than the more intimate, smaller story, as it gets off a ridiculously cheap shot towards the finish. Sadly, the movie also eventually runs out of steam, not having a clear idea when to end, as the story is still ongoing.
Super Reviewer
December 4, 2012
Unfortunately Deal and Lessin had to deal with Spike Lee's "epic" on the Hurricane and will forever have to be compared with that work. Thankfully, it is good and in most cases this is more poignant than Lee's excessive piece.
Super Reviewer
½ September 7, 2009
politically rousing
Super Reviewer
October 26, 2008
Damning ground-level portrait of how tragic Katrina ultimately turned out to be. Second only to Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke.
May 4, 2016
Very annoying lady that the movie focuses on. The points about the poor being hurt were very well-made. But the focus was all put on that annoying lady. Ugh
Super Reviewer
May 2, 2008
Its movies like this after seeing them that at times I am ashamed to call myself an American.How the hell does something like this happen in our country?George Bush had already made such a mess of our country I was sick to death of him,this was the Icing on the cake.^ days? Why did it take 6 days to get water to the Superdome?Why were these people not evacuated?Sad documentary folks.I think every American should watch this to see the HELL these people went through and the positive upbeat spirit a few held in their hearts while their city fell apart all around them.See it!
February 20, 2013
A fascinating and shocking look at the tragedy and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for the people who couldn't leave and lived through it. It manages to critique the inaction and mismanagement by the government while also telling an uplifting story. This is a must watch documentary!
June 12, 2012
Look, assholes: documentaries are biased. All films are biased. All video clips arranged in montage are biased. The act of selecting footage and editing is inherently biased towards authorial preference. So the idea that a "true" documentary has no bias is damn foolishness and indicates no knowledge of film. That being said, I don't want to review this movie, because I don't want to hear what the fucking Republicans have to say about it, but it moved me, it provokes anger and great sadness, it's an outstanding nonfiction film for those with empathy who aren't judgmental fuckers.
April 14, 2012
People just make me sick sometimes. All of that nonesense could have been avoided and lots of lives could have been saved if people weren't so ignorant, and selfish.
January 6, 2012
"Trouble the Water" goes inside the Hurricane Katrina nightmare like no news report ever did, and it's for this reason alone that the film is a must-view. Having said that, I found myself to be strangely detatched from certain elements and wanting more from the film. I had to remind myself that some of what I was looking for in the film was not what the film was trying to accomplish.
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.
September 11, 2011
Don't know how I missed this one for so long. Incredible footage and some really sobering moments. Would love to see a follow up on these folks.
September 2, 2011
Excellent first person account of what it was like to be IN NEW ORLEANS when Hurricane Katrina hit! An excellent documentary.
½ September 1, 2011
As motivational as it is, the story of one hurricane Katrina victim doesn't spread far enough to convey any real message. Its interesting but that is about it. The last half an hour is filled with her rap career in order to create a feature length film. I loved the footage from inside the house as the hurricane swept across and also the stories that were told. We just never care deep enough for the main character to ever become fully invested in her and her life.
July 25, 2011
Synopsis: A surprising documentary tale of heroism amid tragedy in New Orleans, where a wannabe rapper and her husband brave the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina to rescue their neighbors.

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.
May 9, 2011
Trouble The Water (2008)

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.
October 6, 2010
Powerful, depressing, and ultimately hopeful and inspirational, "Trouble the Water" is a look at Hurricane Katrina through the camera lense of Kimberly Roberts, a young married woman in the 9th Ward who begins filming the day before Katrina hits. While some might say that this film is bias, I have to say that, yeah, it is as it does show the utter lack of help and assistance from both the federal and state government. These citizens have every right to be angry at a world that forgot about them, but Kim's attitude never changes; she's disappointed, yes, but she's never without a sense of humor and grace. She's always quick to see the positive side of things, joking about her misforuntes or finding faith in God. I really like how both her and her husband admit they weren't the best before the storm (drug dealers, etc), but after their lives are turned upside down, they begin to see the importance of life and both have turned their lives around. While many found death, destruction, and anger in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they found something else: hope and a new beginning. A remarkable film.
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