Fascinating doc Detropia looks at Motor City’s abrupt halt.
DETROPIA (Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing). 91 minutes. Opens Friday (October 5). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNNN
In Detropia, Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, directors of the culturally incisive documentaries Jesus Camp and 12th And Delaware, turn their eyes to the city of Detroit, capturing the citizens, businesses and government of an automotive boom town on the verge of bankruptcy.
Ewing and Grady explore American economic decay through small, personal moments like a barista having an awkward encounter with obnoxious Swiss hipsters or a production of The Mikado that puts politicians and auto companies on the Lord High Executioner's little list.
Although some of Detropia's subjects are optimistic - particularly a young woman named Crystal Starr who sneaks into condemned buildings to record their architecture and contents for her blog, and Tommy Stephens, the seen-it-all owner of the cheerfully seedy Raven Lounge - there's a sense that the documentary itself is an elegy for a city that's already passed the point of no return.
Actually, with its sense of a despairing populace tilting toward chaos while hapless politicians struggle to find solutions that are both popular and possible, Detropia plays like a prequel to RoboCop. Make of that what you will.