I'd been waiting to get a glimpse of Coldwater for some time; this afternoon, I finally got my chance. There were a lot of things I enjoyed about this film. We see the tale of a young man named Brad who, after some unfortunate incidents in his life (he is certainly at fault- there are no real attempts to gloss over his character in the beginning), is sent away to one of those youth rehabilitation camps, or better yet boot camps, like the ones you used to see on Maury back in the day. Once there, he realizes not only does he have to deal with what he's done in his life, but he also has to try and contend with the ex-colonel who runs the camp and the string of young psychotics he's given some authority to so they can help run the place. It's brutal at times, harsh. It speaks to what is going on today. People act like, oh poor privileged kids are sent to a camp where they're yelled at, big deal- just because it's not a war torn country these kids are in, just because they're not poor and starving, it does not make their plight any less real. These things are truly going on in life. No young person, regardless of their tendencies towards criminal behaviour, should be stabbed with keys, or beaten, or whipped, tortured in any fashion. This film speaks to many things going on around the world in the name of helping others, especially wayward youths.
Mainly the acting really does it for me. The young man who plays Brad is wonderful, and I thought he did a great job throughout the entire film. Many of the young guys who had a significant amount of screen time really were spot on. James C. Burns did an amazing job of bringing to a life a real menace. Not only was the colonel character awful, he seemed to enjoy being awful, and it can't be easy for an actor to get into that sort of thing. Though the colonel is a bad man, it's interesting to see the character go through his own inner turmoil; one particular scene has him drinking Jack Daniels, puffing a cigar, chasing some of the young men he's charged with rehabilitating while they jog in front of him, and laughing himself to death. It's really raw, disturbing stuff.
The end of the film is what essentially put this from 7 to an 8 stars out of 10 for me. I imagined it would come to a very different close, but about 10-15 minutes left I realized it was going somewhere a little further. It was intense, and really got to me. The end comes as bittersweet- Brad comes to terms with what he has done in the past by doing something that needed to be done in the present. I really don't want to ruin it, so I'll say no more.
Great performances, pretty nice story, and the cinematography was well done. Highly recommend giving it a watch, especially if you enjoy prison-type stories; though this is more youth offenders, still along the same sort of fare.