Cahiers du Cinema critic, screenwriter for Andre Techine and others, as well as an award-winning filmmaker, Olivier Assayas could be considered part of a 'family' of French auteurs. Which explains why, when the idea for the series Tous les gamins et les filles deuleur age (All the Boys and Girls of their Age)—where ten filmmakers were asked to capture the era of their own adolescence with the only criteria being that they use music from the times and included a party sequence-was conceived, he was called on to portray the early 70s.
Tough and unsentimental, Cold Water renders the despair of teenage alienation desperately palpable through its vigorous verite style and incredibly true to life performances.
Gilles and Christine are a young couple battling repressive families, trouble at school and authority of all persuasions. Their treadmill of suburban teen routine-shoplifting and sullen defiance—grinds through a series of unnerving clashes with the adult world until Christine, facing institutionalisation by a father who questions her mental stability, seeks another way out.
Though steeped in the milieu of the age of aquarius—almost half of the film is dominated by a party scene flooded with the music of Joplin, Nico, Leonard Cohen, Dylan and Alice Cooper—Cold Water is far from being a self-conscious nostalgia piece. The emotional immediacy of Assayas' confrontational camerawork and unflinching script carries the film rather than melodramatic plot devices or period artifice.