SXSW Review: 'Coldwater'

'Bellflower' producer Vincent Grashaw's feature directing debut


Near the end of Vincent Grashaw's Coldwater, the camera freezes for a moment on a bloodied manchild curled on a golden winter field in imitation of Andrew Wyeth’s famed painting Christina’s World.

That violence amid beauty is the heart of this film about brutality at a private juvenile reform facility hidden in the Colorado mountains. At his parents’ consent, small-time drug dealer Brad (PJ Boudousqué) is hurtled into Coldwater, where a retired colonel dehumanizes teenage boys and slowly kills their souls. That’s both the power and the weakness of the film, which is essentially a darker, teenage Cool Hand Luke. The acting is top-notch, as is the cinematography (by Jayson Crothers), but Coldwater itself is missing some humanity. We seldom experience the boys being boys and bonding – no Cool Hand Luke egg-eating contests here. Instead we have violence and blood at a level that soon becomes almost pornographic. Perhaps that’s the point, but it’s hard to stomach.

Coldwater screens again Wednesday, March 13, 11am, Alamo Ritz.

Save the World With Bill Nye
Save the World With Bill Nye
SXSW Eco closing speaker thinks we're not a lost cause

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 18, 2016

Get Greasy With <i>The Greasy Strangler</i>
Get Greasy With The Greasy Strangler
Director Jim Hosking on your new cult favorite

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 7, 2016

More by Joe O'Connell
God and Comedy
God and Comedy
Screenwriter Michael Zagst chooses laughter with Divine Access

May 13, 2016

Where Is Your Mind?
Where Is Your Mind?
Stories of the Mind brings mental health issues to light

May 6, 2016


SXSW, Coldwater, Vincent Grashaw, PJ Boudousqué, Jayson Crothers

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)