Trouble the Water
Directed by Carl Deal and Tia Lessin
A New Orleans resident documents Hurricane Katrina
Trouble the Water is an “endlessly moving” documentary about Hurricane Katrina, said Richard Corliss in Time. Directors Carl Deal and Tia Lessin met Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her husband two weeks after Katrina hit New Orleans. Roberts, an aspiring rapper and resident of the Lower Ninth Ward, had purchased a $20 camcorder days before the levees broke. Her shaky, amateur footage of the aftermath is the centerpiece of their “artlessly magnificent” film. It captures the “damage and drama of the hurricane with a wit and painful insight beyond the gifts of Anderson Cooper.” No news report could compare with Roberts’ “heart-stopping” view of the storm, said Noel Murray in The Onion. The film is “infuriating in its depiction of helpless Americans getting left behind” and uplifting in its portrayal of the couple’s resilience. But it can be frustratingly myopic, since the directors use only the footage Roberts herself shot. Sticking to one point of view helps humanize the tragedy, said Andrew O’Hehir in Salon.com. The directors place Roberts’ story “within a larger social and emotional context,” creating a film with devastating effect.