Synopsis

Gilles and Christine a boy and a girl live in the outskirts of Paris, their families are ineffective and distant and they lead a purposeless life. They steal some records in a supermarket but she is caught and sent to a nursing home by force by her parents. She escapes and follows Gilles to a house where some other youths live. They then decide to go south: Christine has been told there is a commune there, where artists live. So they head south sleeping rough...

Director

Olivier Assayas

Cast

László Szabó
as Le père de Gilles
Dominique Faysse
as La mère de Christine
Jackie Berroyer
as Le père de Christine

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by J. Harlan 9 /10

Right on, this one

I really hadn't expected much of this movie when I saw it in Brooklyn last summer. But, as a coming of age story, it's one of the few ones that really hits home for me. Cold Water is just such a frustrated, restless film, neither condemning nor forgiving its self-involved children and inadequate parents. It's fair in that way, which is refreshing. I'm tired of hearing rich kids get a lot of breaks and tired of hearing the Richard Fords explain away their parenting mistakes.

Visually, it's not a terribly structured or naturalistic film, and maybe that's why it seems to be so right on. The frenetic energy and seeming meaninglessness of the individual shots really conveys the frustration that comes from having the faculties of an adult, but none of the powers. Those shots come together in these long, slow sequences . . . small town livin'. There's a seeming, but deceptive, plotlessness that drew a lot of recognition from me.

You shouldn't miss the party scene. Man, that brings back memories. Pure recklessness, and listening to CCR over and over and over.

Reviewed by lazarillo N/A

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose"

This is an interesting film about two teenage French lovers, both from troubled homes. The boy has the typical, at times overbearing and at other times inattentive, divorced father. The girls' home-life is much worse. Her father gains custody of her just so he can commit her to an institution. Her mother is well-meaning, but has troubles of her own, being mixed up with Scientology and a violence-prone Muslim boyfriend. After the girl escapes from the institution, the pair rendezvous at a party/bonfire at an abandoned house (an interesting scene that takes up nearly the whole middle third of the movie); they then go on the lam together.

America/Hollywood has made many (really way too many) movies about teens, most of which are typically saccharine and very cliché-ridden. The French, on the other hand, often make movies with teens (especially teen girls) who are worldly and sophisticated beyond their years and typically involved in sexual affairs with angst-filled middle-age men. This movie really avoids either of these tedious moulds, and given that, and the general lack of over-the-top drama, this one of the more realistic teen movies I've seen, either from France OR America. Given the music, I think it might have been set sometime before 1994 (maybe the 70's) and could have been a personal story for the filmmakers.

French beauty Virginie Ledoyen is, of course, much more attractive than your typical alienated teenage girl, even given a startling scene where she gives herself a very bad haircut on-screen while her emotionally disturbed character is wandering around the house party (to the tune of Janis Joplin's rendition of "Me and Bobbi McGee"). Her bad haircut and surprisingly very decent acting almost make her seem like a normal troubled teen girl for awhile (at least, until she takes all her clothes off at the end and reminds us we're in the presence of rare, unattainable beauty--but then I guess that's a stupid thing to complain about). I know less about the young actor playing the boy, but he's very decent too. The adults in the movie are believably ineffectual while the teens and teen extras are believably inarticulate (it's nice not to hear the kind of precocious trendy teen-speak that American movies are always lousy with).

I've seen a lot of French movies about teens recently (or, at least, ridiculous sexy French teen girls) like "Noce Blanche" and "Elisa" (with Vanessa Paradis and Gerard Depardieu), "La Boum" (with a young Sophie Marceau), and "L'Ennui" (with Sophie Guillemin). This may or may not be the best, but it is certainly the most realistic.

Reviewed by Levana 8 /10

Unexpected beauty

Taking a low-key approach to events that are only earth-shaking to the people involved, Asseyas has made something beautiful and moving from the lives of teenagers not that different from everyone else. The inevitable tragedy plays out with complete naturalness. And the entire sequence of the party at the empty house, rhythmed by the music, is breathtaking.

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