Cold Water: A Teenage Dream So Hard to Beat

08/19/2010 9:32 AM |

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Cold Water, from 1994, playing tonight at BAM as part of their selected-by-the-Safdie Brothers series, is Olivier Assayas’ last doomed love romance, structured as teen transcendence (the lead teen is Virginie Ledoyen), before his characters and films take on cosmic contemplation of stratigraphic problems. The first part is teen clichés, expulsions and shoplifting, done in usual harried, present-tense glimpses, though the time is post-’68. The last pastiches Mouchette. But the second seems more concrete and abstract, evolving Andrei Rublev and 47 Ronin into the ‘70s with fugue-like play between subject and camera: teens build a fire outside a ramshackle fortress, burn furniture, hook up, dance, and play, replay, and cut off CCR, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen off-screen. The camera slowly tracks the walls as if, like the teens, to buttress the place from history but vainly pin down a moment in time and structure in place that’s as evasive as fire or teen ideals of communism, nature, and a punk-rock treehouse. Assayas’ movies, like his characters, are so lost in a recognizable reality that it feels like a dream they can’t and won’t wake up from.