“Trouble The Water”
Zeitgeist
At the Michigan Theater

4 out of 5 Stars

Remember all the moronic hype about how “Cloverfield” and its hand-held camera style gave it a pressing, relevant and true-to-life thrill? Well, it’s pretty bogus and unscrupulous compared to actual disaster footage.

The heart-breaking new documentary “Trouble the Water” presents a real catastrophe, Hurricane Katrina, and it’s harsher and more exhausting than any gimmick-film. Through personal footage acquired by Ninth Ward couple Scott and Kimberly Rivers Roberts, Katrina is retold in the most achingly earnest format we may ever see.

Mixing cinéma vérité, oral accounts, news footage and a sincerity seldom seen in popular documentary, “Water” is Scott and Kim’s story about their life in New Orleans before and after the hurricane. If you think you heard it all on the news, wait till you see it here. There’s no Anderson Cooper crying and segueing to other stories. Everything awful you heard about — missing checks, secret police, racial strife, dilapidated row houses — is visible, understandable and horribly affecting.

But are Kim and Scott complete victims of a historical plight? Not necessarily. They keep moving on, working, hoping and trying to sort out their lives. They don’t run from the storm: They face it. And their story couldn’t be more hopeful — a needed feeling these days.

“Trouble the Water” is a rare and required work of visual substance. While it only plays today and tomorrow, if you’re willing to shell out ten bucks for fake disasters, then why not spend seven informing yourself about a real one?

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