When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts Reviews

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Paul Schrodt
Slant Magazine
May 21, 2015
Spike Lee's political statement is one of humanism, and the result is his most potent work in years.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Heather Boerner
Common Sense Media
December 18, 2010
Spike Lee's masterful and disturbing Katrina docu.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Nick Rogers
December 2, 2010
There's no way to truly distill this triumph into a handful of words. The ghosts of so many color the corners of a mournful poem and a powerful prayer that's pissed off, hopeful, practical, empathetic and one of the most important documentaries ever made.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Stan Hall
July 20, 2007
Arguably Lee's best effort since Do the Right Thing.
Jason Gorber
Film Scouts
June 21, 2007
...provides an extraordinarily detailed look at this event, and its worth is sure to be felt increasingly as the memories fade and the anger softens with time and distance.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Kam Williams
One People's Project
May 11, 2007
Despite capturing many heartbreaking aspects of the disaster, this is essentially an overambitious mess which ultimately fails to convey effectively the scale or scope of the ongoing tragedy.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/4
Brian Gibson
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
March 9, 2007
It's the depth and weight of Freeman Jr's or Michael Wright's or Phyllis Leblanc's words, the anger and sadness behind them, that surge forth here, sinking the political elite's murderously empty promises.
Dan Jardine
December 22, 2006
In this golden era of documentary filmmaking, When the Levess Broke is among the very best films of the past year, fiction and non-fiction alike.
Full Review | Original Score: 90/100
Top Critic

Globe and Mail
September 23, 2006
The same didactic instincts that sometimes mar Lee's fictional filmmaking serve him well as a documentarian and eulogist.
Read More | Original Score: 4/4
David Nusair
Reel Film Reviews
September 8, 2006
...what should have been a searing, powerful documentary generally comes off as a rough cut that's desperately in need of some judicious editing.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Don R. Lewis
Film Threat
September 5, 2006
It's an honest, fair and unflinching look at one of the greatest, and saddest, natural disasters to hit our shores.
| Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
David Denby
New Yorker
August 28, 2006
Surely the most magnificent and large-souled record of a great American tragedy ever put on film.
Top Critic
Stephen Holden
New York Times
August 22, 2006
What breaks your heart is the film's accumulated firsthand stories of New Orleans residents who lost everything in the flood after Hurricane Katrina, and the dismaying conclusion that a year after the disaster, the broken city has been largely abandoned.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Paul Brownfield
Los Angeles Times
August 22, 2006
When the Levees Broke is like the New Orleans jazz funeral -- a dirge on the way to the cemetery, an up-tempo parade in the deceased's honor on the bittersweet walk back home.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Robert Abele
L.A. Weekly
August 22, 2006
An exhaustive, ruminative, angry and even occasionally gallows-humorous account of the strange domino effect of tragedy compounding incompetence compounding tragedy that dealt a critical blow to one of America's great cities.
Top Critic
Charlie McCollum
San Jose Mercury News
August 22, 2006
Do the flaws diminish Levees? To a degree. But the story Lee tells is so powerful, so important, that the lapses aren't a reason not to pay heed to what this passionate film has to say.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
David Bianculli
New York Daily News
August 22, 2006
It's something to make a point to see.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
David Wiegand
San Francisco Chronicle
August 22, 2006
The film asks many questions, implies answers for the easier ones, but ultimately concludes that some are simply beyond answering. Those are the questions posed in stories of incalculable human heartbreak.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Gloria Goodale
Christian Science Monitor
August 22, 2006
[The film] presents a poignant picture of official blunders and personal loss, and provides important national lessons if another threat this size hits an American city.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
Top Critic
Matt Zoller Seitz
Newark Star-Ledger
August 22, 2006
One of Lee's greatest and most deeply personal works.
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