On the third anniversary of hurricane Katrina, and in the wake of hurricane Gustav, comes "Trouble the Water," a marvelous documentary that brings home the terror and heroism brought forth by the Katrina debacle. Filmmakers Carl Deal and Tia Lessin were initially in Louisiana to make a movie about the National Guard troops sent there from Iraq to help. Then they ran into a married couple in a Red Cross shelter who had fled their submerged home in the Lower Ninth Ward. Along with her husband Scott, Kimberly Roberts, who took home-movie footage of the storm and its aftermath, became the centerpiece for the film.
"Trouble the Water" is an indictment of the disgraceful response on the part of the Bush administration and FEMA to the Katrina disaster, but Deal and Lessin don't haul out very often the Michael Moore blunderbuss. They don't have to. They trust us to recognize the calamity for what it is.
Beyond the politics of the situation is the human situation, and this the filmmakers capture supremely well. I include Kimberly among the filmmakers. Her hand-held videography, with its first-person immediacy, is doubly frightening because we already know what is in store for so many of her dispossessed neighbors and friends. Like Scott, Kimberly, a talented rapper, had also been a sometime drug dealer, but the Katrina crisis brings out in her a valiant heroism. She is the star of the movie not only because she turns around the lives of others in need but also because she turns around her own life – and under the direst of conditions. She's the biggest superhero in movies. Grade: A (Unrated.)