Finding the Life of the Party in Cold Water

Inside Criterion / Sneak Peeks — Sep 17, 2018


About halfway through Olivier Assayas’s fifth feature, Cold Water—a raw and wrenching tale of teenage rebellion in the early 1970s, based on the director’s own experiences—comes the film’s extraordinary centerpiece sequence. During a party at an abandoned château, at which the star-crossed protagonists Gilles (Cyprien Fouquet) and Christine (Virginie Ledoyen) reunite after a long separation, Assayas vividly evokes an atmosphere of youthful heedlessness, as the handheld camera surveys the impulsive movements of the revelers, and a series of period-evocative rock songs, cued up by the kids themselves, accentuate the emotional turbulence of the nearly half-hour-long scene.

Among the supplements on our new edition of the 1994 movie, which until now has been unavailable in the U.S., is an interview with Assayas in which he talks about the career-defining experience of making what he has called his “second first film.” And as he explains in the above clip, no part of Cold Water proved more instrumental to his development as a filmmaker than the five-day process of shooting the marathon party scene, which crystallized for him the idea that a set should be a sort of “happening” in itself.