Cold Water is Olivier Assayas’s unforgettable contribution to Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge, an epochal series of films commissioned by French public television in 1994. Filmmakers were asked to make films about teenage characters in the era of their own adolescence, giving the overall series the feel of an informal history of French youth from the sixties to the nineties. Yet the most remarkable aspect  of the series was the intimate nature of the individual contributions. This is certainly true of Assayas’s starkly beautiful tale of a couple of young lovers in the sleepy suburbs of Paris in 1972, possibly his most personal film and certainly one of his best. Gilles and Christine are both troublemakers, shoplifting records and defying authority figures, but only Christine is genuinely on the edge: after her father has her institutionalized, she escapes, finds Gilles at a party in an abandoned mansion, and asks him to run away with her. Driven by a magnetic performance by the young Virginie Ledoyen and the music of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and Janis Joplin, Cold Water captures the nihilistic feeling of post-68 youth while subtly contrasting teenage pranks and real despair.

Olivier Assayas

Olivier Assayas

Virginie Ledoyen
Cyprien Fouquet

95 min.
France, 1994
DCP, DVD, Blu-Ray

Janus Films