Coldwater (2013) Poster


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A deep and relevant movie with gripping performances
Sam Saunders11 March 2013
I just saw this movie at its premiere at SXSW. It's an intense film about a young man who is sent to be 'transformed' at what you might call a juvenile detention camp. Things deteriorate as the Colonel, played masterfully by James C. Burns, begins to unravel himself. The film is carried by newcomer PJ Boudousque, a name we should start getting used to. In his first film, he plays Brad Lunders, a teenager haunted by the mistakes of his past but determined to change his future, and that of anyone close to his orbit. His performance is intense and meaningful, saying as much with a look as he might with 100 words. Vincent Grashaw does a marvelous job with all the young cast, each bringing something very special to the film.

The score is a triumph.

I loved this film, and think for many people involved it will be the start of something big.
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Painful yet effective
priyantha-bandara12 September 2014
Just as the name goes Coldwater is a stone cold story about abuse and survival. But it's a different kind than we often see on the movies. The story moves out of the abusive culture which exists in the common society and explores a certain layer of systematic abuse which exists in a more controlled environment which is governed by the authorities in the name of rehabilitation.

Brad (P.J. Boudousqué) is sent to a juvenile reform facility by his parents following his history of troubles with the law. Soon after he arrives at the location he realizes that this place is much worse than the detention centers he has served time earlier. While the techniques and routine takes a toll on the detainees Brad struggles to get out of the place. After a failed attempt and severe punishment his goals change to fight against the system than freeing himself.

Coldwater is a slow moving yet applying drama. It is quite horrific and painful to get through as well. But the violence is done up to a certain point where it delivers the message and nothing else. The drama and the characters and their struggle overcome the violence element and due to this Coldwater become one of the few movies which positively get away with it. There is a good flow and mostly the story bounce between two timelines of Brad's life. While the movie creates a good interest of things to come it delivers certain element of surprises as well. However, for some reason I wish that the ending was different and we could witness a Brad who stood up for his beliefs than becoming a victim of it.

Though for some viewers Coldwater could be a painful memory, as a movie it is different and effective. There is good acting from many less known talents and decent cinematography to get by.
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good job
Armand27 September 2014
a great surprise. not only for the theme, not exactly for acting. but for the admirable art of detail, for the precise tension, for music and for the traces after its end.a film who has the gift to give the emotions of a passing way. a film about small , ordinaries things. nothing complicated, nothing too special. only a story about people, world, error and justice. each of that does it more than a movie about the teenagers difficult cases. short, it is an useful movie. for its artistic virtues. for carefully build of story, for the lead character who translate the life profound sense in a not common manner. a film about pillars of existence. in right manner, with delicate force.
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Gritty, raw, and character driven.
C.H Newell8 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I'd been waiting to get a glimpse of Coldwater for some time; this afternoon, I finally got my chance. There were a lot of things I enjoyed about this film. We see the tale of a young man named Brad who, after some unfortunate incidents in his life (he is certainly at fault- there are no real attempts to gloss over his character in the beginning), is sent away to one of those youth rehabilitation camps, or better yet boot camps, like the ones you used to see on Maury back in the day. Once there, he realizes not only does he have to deal with what he's done in his life, but he also has to try and contend with the ex-colonel who runs the camp and the string of young psychotics he's given some authority to so they can help run the place. It's brutal at times, harsh. It speaks to what is going on today. People act like, oh poor privileged kids are sent to a camp where they're yelled at, big deal- just because it's not a war torn country these kids are in, just because they're not poor and starving, it does not make their plight any less real. These things are truly going on in life. No young person, regardless of their tendencies towards criminal behaviour, should be stabbed with keys, or beaten, or whipped, tortured in any fashion. This film speaks to many things going on around the world in the name of helping others, especially wayward youths.

Mainly the acting really does it for me. The young man who plays Brad is wonderful, and I thought he did a great job throughout the entire film. Many of the young guys who had a significant amount of screen time really were spot on. James C. Burns did an amazing job of bringing to a life a real menace. Not only was the colonel character awful, he seemed to enjoy being awful, and it can't be easy for an actor to get into that sort of thing. Though the colonel is a bad man, it's interesting to see the character go through his own inner turmoil; one particular scene has him drinking Jack Daniels, puffing a cigar, chasing some of the young men he's charged with rehabilitating while they jog in front of him, and laughing himself to death. It's really raw, disturbing stuff.

The end of the film is what essentially put this from 7 to an 8 stars out of 10 for me. I imagined it would come to a very different close, but about 10-15 minutes left I realized it was going somewhere a little further. It was intense, and really got to me. The end comes as bittersweet- Brad comes to terms with what he has done in the past by doing something that needed to be done in the present. I really don't want to ruin it, so I'll say no more.

Great performances, pretty nice story, and the cinematography was well done. Highly recommend giving it a watch, especially if you enjoy prison-type stories; though this is more youth offenders, still along the same sort of fare.
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Geat FILM!
zakwaripop6 August 2013
Saw it at Las Vegas Int'L Film festival where it took best picture and many more awards! and decidedly so! what impressed me most about this movie was the internal development building the tension of the character arcs. It is a very rare trait in American movies recently and it is always refreshing to see it, attempted and then achieved. The colors are spot on as well as acting. Many compliments to the DP. Also, Vincent Grashaw does a great job! Pretty great production design - minimal- but confident and effective.

I wish there were more movies like this and good movie lovers should not miss it!
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Locked up
kosmasp26 November 2014
If this is your first "prison" movie (though they wouldn't like to be called that, since they are special in holding youth criminals and re-educating them), you might like this even better than others on this page. There is obviously things happening that shouldn't occur, neither in that facility nor in the "real" world. But with great power comes ... mostly people abusing that power.

This training camp is made to better people with methods that don't seem to add up. The actors are really good at conveying their current mood and their goal in this. Sometimes this seems like a documentary and obviously this seems close to a real event as it gets.
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Excellent movie
Peter Pluymers23 April 2015
"Welcome to paradise boys. This is Coldwater. I am Colonel Frank Reichert, United States Marine Corps, retired. You can call me Colonel. You can call me sir. It's up to you. The choice is yours. Life here, gentlemen, is very simple. Let's not bullshit each other. You're here because you f*cked up. We're here to fix that. So, you show me that you have a willingness and desire to change. Simple as that."

"Coldwater" eventually evolved into a rather impressive and hard pruning drama in which the existence of so-called re-education camps in the US are denounced. The film isn't based on an actual true story (I guess), but is an outline of how things are done in such disciplinary camps that actually exist there and where the shown practices are applied daily. These places are rather prison camps where humiliation is a standard instead of re-education. The objective is more like a psychological torture of young people who end up there, with the sole purpose to get them back on the right track before they risk an actual prison sentence. The juveniles are sent there at the insistence of the parents to guide them into a better and controlled life without crime. But I'm afraid some youngsters end up there because parents are fed up with them or are in the process of picking up their own miserable lives without a reluctant and rebellious child. This is proved by the presence of a sniveling chubby kid who was send over there because he got bad grades in school and did some ditching.

We see Brad Lunders (PJ Boudousqué) being lifted from his bed in the middle of the night, being handcuffed and dumped in a van between some other victims, while his mother looks at it with a face scarred by guilt. And before he knows it he arrives in camp "Coldwater", led by the former marine Colonel Frank Reichert (James C. Burns) who believes in certain values like discipline and disciplinary penalties for indiscipline. It's obvious that some practices aren't really kosher and are being covered with the cloak of charity. Reichert is assisted by trustees : young men who also ended up there once and voluntarily, or perhaps forcibly, choose to participate in the re-education of young offenders. This place somewhere in the middle of nowhere is like hell on earth for these internees and can be compared to a prison camp from the 2nd World War. Perhaps the applied tortures aren't as horrible as those in that period, but the impact of it on these young people is indisputable. Similarly for Brad who realizes that he can only survive by accepting this rotten system and realizes it's best to fit the straitjacket prescribed by the sadistic camp leader.

I'm sure this will be repeated indefinitely, but Boudousqué eerily resembles Ryan Gosling. Not only his physical appearance but also his style of acting is the same as that of Gosling. That stoic calmness he exudes, that serene facial expression showing how he assesses each situation and the determination with which he concentrates on the intended goal. But despite his angelic appearance he's not unconditional innocent. In terms of character he differs at first sight considerably with the character of Burns. But on second thoughts they are more alike than you'd expect : they both suffer from a traumatic experience out of the past and they both have leadership qualities. And despite that Brad hates the Colonel and wants to pull the rug out from underneath him , he could definitely become someone like him.

"Coldwater" was a terrific movie to watch, despite the sometimes uncomfortable scenes. Perfectly imaged, at the right pace. Vincent Grashaw intuitively developed this difficult story. Without realizing, a period of 2 years elapsed subtly punctuated by several flashbacks which gave us an insight into the life of Brad. Certainly not in a disturbing way and brought in a fluid manner. And the moment you conclude that it's apparently a typical moralizing film, the final denouement hits you like a sledgehammer. A discharge of pent-up anger and frustration that degenerates into a chaotic situation full of rage and revenge. Ultimately the film leaves you with mixed feelings. As soon as the situation became clear, there's a sense of compassion and you sympathize with the youngsters who try to survive in these inhumane conditions. By the end this feeling is still reverberating, but perhaps some of them really belonged there. I'm sure these situations don't occur everywhere as shown here. However, it is better to avoid such a place as "Coldwater".

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I discovered here the Ryan Gosling's ringer...
Warning: Spoilers
No joke, at first, I actually believed it was Ryan Gosling who was playing in this film. Young Ryan Gosling. Besides that, it's a great film, one one the best juvenile delinquency films kind ever made for me. In the line of DOG POUND, four years ago.

Terrific performances every where here. The director explained he avoided rape sequences, especially at the beginning, but he did not avoid torture scenes, especially the one with the pin Under the nail...

The independent American film industry seems very interesting these times, a billion miles ahead of the usual Hollywood crap.

A great film.
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Great Movie
nakamurak4620 August 2014
My wife and best friend went to Pasadena to see this movie over the weekend without any preconceived notions. We were rewarded with a rich and deeply-emotional story that backfilled the plot at just the right moments to reveal teenagers who got in trouble only to experience more serious abuse, murder, and betrayal from the very rehabilitation and juvenile reform camps designed to "correct" their behavior. Lunders' character was played brilliantly in the portrayal of a teenager knowingly doing wrong, getting caught, and then forced to blend his survival instincts with an undertow of defiance while imprisoned.

Was the movie entertaining? Not in the classical sense. But more importantly it conveyed a message that forces the larger examination of the black box of private,for-profit, pseudo-correctional institutions for juveniles in this country. This message still resonates with us several days after seeing the movie. Great film making!
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Disturbing, but not satisfying
ddcharbon17 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This film has a political agenda, one I happen to agree with. That is, there's something wrong with juvenile detention facilities that are de facto concentration camps, that have no legal oversight or laws pertaining to them and where many young men have died over the last thirty years and whose only justification for this legal carte blanche is that the parents are the ones "sentencing" their kids there. The torture is certainly disturbing. But unlike one of the reviewers, I don't see much in the way of character development here. And while the young actor--who is the spitting image of Ryan Gosling (he even _acts_ like him)--does a good job; he develops along very predictable lines. The other characters are fundamentally flat, especially the Colonel who remains a cipher throughout the film: we never learn really why he's such an asshole or what he thinks about his own asshole behavior. Character development for him turns out to be drinking more in the film's third act and fondling his pistol with suicidal thoughts. The film ends very disturbingly and certainly leaves a mark, as it were. But the final confrontation between Brad and the Colonel is absolutely wordless and without much depth--a problem with much of the film. I think it won at the film festivals for the disturbing violence yoked to its liberal politics, not for its storytelling.
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