Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. 100
    The documentary shows outrageous behavior, none more so than when they and many others are directed to a nearby Navy base for refuge.
  2. Trouble the Water is so much better and truer and deeper and more illuminating than either of them ("Bowling for Columbine"/"Fahrenheit 9/11").
  3. 100
    Enraging and inspiring. It boasts the miraculous quality of finding a letter in a bottle and discovering that its authors are alive.
  4. 100
    If possible, Roberts' movie-within-a-movie is even more amazing than it sounds. She captures a tale of courage, heroism and tragedy more thrilling than any Hollywood spectacle.
  5. 100
    It's a damning indictment of a national disgrace, but it also reveals the incredible faith and resilience of people who have nothing to rely on but themselves.
  6. A marvelous documentary that brings home the terror and heroism brought forth by the Katrina debacle.
  7. Reviewed by: Joanne Kaufman
    90
    A deeply moving story of resilience and redemption.
  8. 88
    Lessin and Deal have made Trouble the Water a spellbinder you do not want to miss.
  9. 88
    Slowly builds power to devastating effect.
  10. Reviewed by: Pauline Pechin
    88
    A remarkable and disturbing look at the personal stories glossed over by the headlines.
  11. You can't make this stuff up. You can, however, capture it on film for all time. Trouble the Water is ineradicably moving.
  12. Reviewed by: Jim Ridley
    80
    The resilience of the movie's subjects--survivors of street crime and drugs and HIV--irradiates Trouble the Water like sunshine.
  13. They have created an ingeniously fluid narrative structure that, when combined with Ms. Roberts’s visuals, news material and their own original 16-millimeter film footage, ebbs and flows like great drama.
  14. 80
    One of the most eloquent records we have of a tragedy that brought out some of the most impressively alive men and women in New Orleans.
  15. The Roberts are unforgettable figures, and their insiders' perspective and ultimate survival and rebirth provide an exhilarating example of how wondrous things can emerge from the flood.
  16. Spike Lee's voluminous "When the Levees Broke" proved a thorough indictment, a compilation of tragic and appalling facts encyclopedically catalogued. By contrast, Trouble the Water (on Oscar's short-list in the best doc category) has a more personal focus and, although just as damning, manages to strike a more hopeful chord.
  17. 75
    The film works as well as it does thanks to Kimberly Roberts' magnetic screen presence.
  18. 75
    Trouble The Water is infuriating in its depiction of helpless Americans getting left behind, and uplifting in the way it shows the Roberts putting their lives together, but it's also frustrating, because it lacks some focus.
  19. Reviewed by: Justin Lowe
    70
    Kimberly's ground-zero home video of the storm is what really makes the film exceptional, although much of it is of such rough quality and execution that it struggles to hold up on the big screen.
  20. Reviewed by: Neely Tucker
    70
    Weaker in its second half than its mesmerizing first, as the story moves away from the intensity of the storm to follow the Robertses in their efforts to resettle.
  21. 63
    The film is so immersed in Roberts's life that it becomes easy to think that most of what the camera sees is also from her perspective. It's actually too seamless.
  22. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    60
    Though tinged with the sheer gumption and personal resolve of amateur vidmaker and would-be rapper Kimberly Roberts, this is ultimately a minor doc contribution to the bulging library of Katrina-related films and TV reports.
  23. Filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal utilize the footage Kim and Scott Roberts had taken throughout the disaster, showing how residents suffered, survived and came together to help when official assistance let them down.
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. RogerH.
    Dec 9, 2008
    10
    Brilliant, brilliant, compelling doc. True passion
  2. SusanS.
    Oct 16, 2008
    10
    Powerful stuff, and a hard reminder of the state of our union.
  3. Sep 1, 2011
    7
    As motivational as it is, the story of one hurricane Katrina victim doesn't spread far enough to convey any real message. Its interesting but that is about it. The last half an hour is filled with her rap career in order to create a feature length film. I loved the footage from inside the house as the hurricane swept across and also the stories that were told. We just never care deep enough for the main character to ever become fully invested in her and her life. Full Review »