SXSW Film 2013 – “Coldwater” review

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by Monica Solis

“Coldwater” dives deep into hearts, and leaves no holds barred

What do you get when you cross Call of Duty Black Ops “The Sergeant,” with a protagonist who resembles a young Ryan Gosling,with a production company that gets the art of cinematography and a director who debuts with a message you just can’t ignore? You get the film Coldwater which premiered at SXSW 2013.

Coldwater, written by Mark Penney and directed and written by Vincent Grashaw, consists of an up-and-coming, lead cast : aforementioned “young Gosling” PJ Boudousqué, and Call of Duty’s James C. Burns, co-starring with Chris Petrovski, Octavius J. Johnson, and Nicholas Bateman.

The film follows teenager Brad Lunders (Boudousqué) as he is thrown into a juvenile reform facility with the consent of his parents. We see the facility’s inner workings and violent relationships often involved amongst the teenage boys who are sent there, the counselors, and Colonel Frank Reichert (Burns), the retired war colonel who runs the place.

Watch the official teaser trailer here, courtesy of YouTube.

I perceived Coldwater as presenting an array of sociological issues…think- the way juvenile “delinquents” are treated by society, questionable means of reform, authority in conformity, and self-identity versus group identity. What is striking about this film is it could have easily been a documentary, sharing the stories of juveniles who have been through reform facilities themselves. Indeed on  the website for Coldwater, web links to cases are listed in which juveniles experienced inadequate treatment at these facilities or even worse, death.

I respect Grashaw for instead, opting to make a film based off these issues, but not entirely about them. The film, rather, attempts to show both sides of the coin and to involve more personal stories and emotion that could only be achieved through a drama/thriller. It succeeded.

One easily forgets that any of the acting in Coldwater is acting; it is the stroke of genius, the kind of technique that makes you immerse yourself into the world of the characters and tear up when something does or does not afflict them. Scenes in Coldwater were accompanied with a well thought out musical score (thank you Flying Pig productions) that neither took away from, nor overwhelmed. Imagery was strong and often graphic, but correlated with the content of the story – too often we are handed a sugar coated rendition of the stories that may be playing out all around us – this film as a whole was the perfect mix of both gut-wrenching and eye-opening.

5/5 stars

– Monica Solis, KTSW reporter

SXSW  “Coldwater” photos of cast and crew

(Director Vincent Grashaw, actors P.J. Boudousque’ and James C. Burns, executive producer Joe Bilotta)


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