Film Highlight: Trouble the Water

Kim Rivers Roberts and Scott Roberts outside their flood-damaged home in New Orleans in TROUBLE THE WATER, a film by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal.
courtesy of Zeitgeist Films

By following Scott and Kimberly Roberts, a couple from New Orleans's stricken Ninth Ward, through Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, directors Carl Deal and Tia Lessin create an eyewitness epic of history in miniature. The movie's first and most gripping half consists largely of Kimberly's camcorder footage, and its images are so starkly surreal that life resembles a Charley Patton blues: News of the outside world arrives from someone floating by on a punching bag, while a stranger paddles down the street in a washtub. Weeks later, the two return to a deserted Ninth Ward that's purest Beckett: a ghostscape patrolled by lost dogs and warily accommodating National Guardsmen. The second half, which catches up with the Robertses and their companion Brian Nobles after they've sought shelter outside New Orleans, doesn't have the staggering otherworldliness of the camcorder footage. But the outrage of Katrina's mishandling still comes flooding back, fresh as a slap.

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