Year Released: 2011
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 84 minutes
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Flood Streets, set in post-Katrina devastated New Orleans, is an ensemble drama that manages to tackle the uncertainty of humanity without relying on the location to do all the emotional heavy-lifting. Sure, you can’t set or film anything in New Orleans without bringing up a ton of emotional trauma, but Flood Streets isn’t focused on talking about what happened or how it was handled so much as it is about focusing on the lives and doubts of those who live there. In that way, this movie could’ve been made anywhere, but it resonates with more power because it wasn’t.
Matt (Joseph Meissner) wants for the basics, like the daily paper, but he can’t seem to wake up early enough to get it before it’s sold out (and they don’t deliver to his neighborhood anymore). Matt is drifting apart from his artist girlfriend Liz (Melissa Hall), who can’t seem to paint anything she doesn’t want to throw away almost immediately. Madeline (Becky Stark) is a musician who is making ends meet by trolling the Lower 9th Ward late at night, looking for different real estate opportunities she can capitalize on. Georgia (Asia Rainey), Madeline’s friend, is trying to find love on the internet (and also is keen on cooking up “get rich quick” schemes). These characters, and more, float in and out of each other’s lives, sometimes with a direct effect, other times not.
Another major character in this film is marijuana. If folks aren’t smoking it, they’re looking for it. If they aren’t looking for it, they’re growing it, rolling it… weed as more than social lubricant, it’s a fast-track way for strangers to relate on a common ground or, in the case of Matt and Liz, a sign of their drifting apart (as Matt is less inclined to indulge nowadays). And where there’s weed, there is music (and, of course, where there is New Orleans, there is music), and everything blends together into a groovy cloud of dramatic tension.
Again, Flood Streets could’ve sat back and let New Orleans do all the work or make some sort of heavy-handed political statement, but that’s not what this is about. The fears and doubts may have a specific flavor because of where the characters live, but their struggles are not entirely unique the world over. Where does an artist go when the work isn’t providing the basics? What does a person do when they’re starved for love or a real connection? Where do you go when no one wants you, and you can’t stay where you are?
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Posted on August 26, 2011 in Reviews by Mark Bell
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