Cold Water

An early-1970s teenage wasteland with a killer rock soundtrack that does not include “Baba O’Reilly.”

Considering the explicit language and teenage nudity on display, the fact that Olivier Assayas’ newly remastered Cold Water was made for television in 1994 boggles the mind — at least until you factor in that it’s a French telefilm, at which point it makes sense. (Quoth Orson Welles, “Mwaaaaah, the French!”) Gilles (Cyprien Fouquet) and Christine (Virginie Ledoyen, who looks like Young and Beautiful’s Marine Vacth cosplaying as Linda Cardellini in Freaks and Geeks) are troubled teenagers in 1972 France.

It’s a disillusioned culture still hung over from the 1968 student uprisings — vividly recreated in the currently-playing Godard Mon Amour — and in which finding Roxy Music’s “Virginia Plain” on the radio is like a transmission from another world, a velvet goldmine of possibilities. When Christine’s Scientologist(!) mother threatens to institutionalize her, Christine and Gilles run away. Although they plan to find an artists’ commune they’ve heard rumors of, they stop first at Cold Water’s fireworks factory: an all-night teenage party in a derelict woodland mansion, with an eclectic score finding room for both Creedence and Nico. Cold Water’s worldview is bleak and apocalyptic, and it ends with the sense that pop music may be the only defense against a hopeless future. In other words, it perfectly captures the feeling of being a teenager.

Not rated. 
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.

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