Trouble the Water


Trouble the Water

Critics Consensus

This incredible documentary displays the tragedy and mismanagement of Katrina along with the heroism of strangers and survivors.



Total Count: 76


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,991
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Movie Info

"Trouble the Water" takes you inside Hurricane Katrina in a way never before seen on screen. The film opens the day before the storm makes landfall--just blocks away from the French Quarter but far from the New Orleans that most tourists knew. Kimberly Rivers Roberts, an aspiring rap artist, is turning her new video camera on herself and her Ninth Ward neighbors trapped in the city. "It's going to be a day to remember," Kim declares. As the hurricane begins to rage and the floodwaters fill their world and the screen, Kim and her husband Scott continue to film their harrowing retreat to higher ground and the dramatic rescues of friends and neighbors. The filmmakers document the couple's return to New Orleans, the devastation of their neighborhood and the appalling repeated failures of government. Weaving an insider's view of Katrina with a mix of verité and in-your-face filmmaking, "Trouble the Water" is a redemptive tale of self-described street hustlers who become heroes--two unforgettable people who survive the storm and then seize a chance for a new beginning.

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Critic Reviews for Trouble the Water

All Critics (76) | Top Critics (29)

  • 'God's gonna trouble the water,' goes the chorus from the African-American spiritual that gives Trouble the Water its title, but no deity is to blame for the tide of bureaucratic bungling and inhumanity the movie reveals.

    Feb 13, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The person at the centre emerges as a force of nature unto herself. Meet, and prepare to be inspired by, Kimberly Rivers Roberts.

    Feb 12, 2009 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Essential, startling and distressing insight into what it was like to be in the eye of the Katrina storm if you were a poor, black resident of the Ninth Ward of New Orleans on Monday August 29 2005.

    Dec 5, 2008 | Rating: 4/6 | Full Review…

    Wally Hammond

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The footage - edited and augmented by Michael Moore's collaborators Tia Lessin and Carl Deal - is unpolished, but the stories and commentary are as inspirational as they are harrowing.

    Dec 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Tia Lessin and Carl Deal's movie about Hurricane Katrina is, in its way, quite as powerful as Spike Lee's massive documentary on the subject.

    Dec 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • You can't help wanting -- and maybe needing -- to read into her indomitable spiritedness something like a reason for hope. For her, for other Katrina survivors, for all of us.

    Oct 31, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Trouble the Water

  • Dec 04, 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.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 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 <i>Trouble the Water</i> is ultimately an important film.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jul 07, 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.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 08, 2008
    Insightful, first hand account of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, culled from home video footage taken by two aspiring rappers who were too poor to flee the oncoming storm. Unfocused at times, but ultimately a devastating indictment of apathy at an entire class of people left behind, and of their resilience in the face of danger.
    Matthew L Super Reviewer

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