A coming-of-age tale set in early 1970s France is finally being screened in the US for the first time. Info
French auteur Olivier Assayas may be best known for his increasingly metaphysical arthouse cinema, but he also has a rich history of penning dramatic screenplays and period pieces throughout the 1980s and early '90s. Here, Cinematheque will screen 1994’s Cold Water in a new DCP restoration, one of Assayas’ most assured early directorial works and a precursor to his 2012 political romance Something In The Air. Cold Water never saw a US premiere and wide distribution, which is fortunately set to be remedied thanks to Janus Films and the Criterion Collection this coming September. Don’t wait until then to see it.
Set in the outskirts of Paris in 1972, the moody coming-of-age narrative tracks the broken home lives of teens Christine (Virginie Ledoyen) and Gilles (Cyprien Fouquet). After Christine is being caught by police as an accomplice to Gilles' shoplifting, she finds herself exiled from an uncaring family and restrained in a psychiatric facility. Gilles, meanwhile, is expelled from public school for playing hooky as his single father preps him for a strict private academy. As they daringly escape, the two find their burgeoning love is strengthened not only by mutual physical attraction, but also through a shared passion for rebellion.
The soundtrack also merits highlighting. In addition to a moving recitation of Allen Ginsberg’s anti-war poem “Wichita Vortex Sutra," counterculture songs of the era including Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee," Nico's "Janitor of Lunacy," and Leonard Cohen's "Avalanche" masterfully underpin the characters' drifting emotional states. With Denis Lenoir's intimate, handheld cinematography, peaking most notably during an extended night party sequence, Cold Water ultimately adheres to the spirit of its inspiration, François Truffaut's 1959 French New Wave classic The 400 Blows, while singularly tributing notions of individualism and living for today in a volatile social landscape. —Grant Phipps