and thought it was utterly amazing, and probably the best 'show don't tell' argument for why I turn off most movies after 20 minutes these days.
Officially, it's a documentary about Hurricane Katrina. But it's really a home movie by Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her husband, who bought a video camera for $20 off the street the day before the storm and kept it on almost constantly for three days in their attic, camped out on a neighbor's top floor and, eventually, in a Red Cross shelter. The movie's tied together by some post-production and some title cards, but mostly its just the Roberts trying, first, not to drown and, second, to sort through the rubble that the storm makes of their lives.
It looks like a liberal guilt-a-thon, right? I know. What the movie's really about, though, beyond the platitudes, is the insufficiency of fiction to address genuine tragedy. It's amazing how the Roberts survive the hurricane and its aftermath, but nothing about the movie could ever be pitched as a 'triumph of the human spirit.'
Both Kim and her husband are former (and possibly current) drug dealers. They steal a truck to get out of New Orleans and keep it. Kim's brother is in prison. Kim's using the publicity from the film to launch a rap career. Her husband doesn't have a high school diploma, and you can hear real bitterness when he explains his return to New Orleans from Memphis with, 'they only hire graduates up there.' A fiction film would never give its protagonists so many empathy obstacles.
But that's the whole point. We're all adults, we shouldn't need our heroes and survivors to come complete with college diplomas and sparkling intentions. The Roberts aren't 'good people who took some wrong turns in their lives' or however our binary moral compasses want to preserve their hero-ness. They are simply compelling. That's all they, or the movie, owe us.