This movie has a haunting score. It’s shot beautifully. Unfortunately, at the end of the ride, we’re not really left with anything new about the situation with the auto plants and economy.
Watching as the middle-class living in Detroit struggle and try to make sense of it all, can be gripping at times.
Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady got an Oscar nomination for the much more interesting Jesus Camp (they also did The Boys of Baraka).
I’m not sure why this didn’t have more investigational reporting going on.
We follow a few interesting locals – Tommy Stephens, a retired teacher who owns the Raven’s Club. There’s Crystal Starr, a video blogger. George McGregor, UAW Local 22 President, and a couple of installation artists know as the Hygenic Dress League. That’s an interesting cross-section of folks, but only two of them become the main narrators of the situation.
A lot of this is mixed with scenes from the Detroit Opera House. I enjoyed listening to an opera singer belt away with the great acoustics, or seeing about 15 minutes of my favorite operetta – The Mikado. It’s great hearing I’ve Got a Little List and the powerful overture.
I would’ve liked to hear more from Mayor Bing (partly because I’m an NBA nut, and he’s a former player I loved).
There are some powerful scenes. We see a woman get up hours before work to talk to city officials about not cancelling her bus route. There’s a visit to an auto show, where a GM battery-run car is admired, yet built in China.
I guess when it comes to documentaries, I’d prefer a Michael Moore type going down to Detroit and asking questions (wait…didn’t he do that?).
I saw a documentary a few months ago that also showed Detroit (Searching for Sugar Man). In this one, the visuals are much more aesthetically pleasing to watch. Whether that’s the weather, or folks walking down the middle of the street because of the lack of traffic.
I just found the dreamlike visuals may have been stimulating to view, but I would’ve rather had a more detailed approach to what Detroit is facing and what will happen in the future.
I’m giving this 1 ½ stars out of 5.