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To read an interview with “Coldwater” director/co-writer Vince Grashaw, click here.
A harrowing, affecting film, “Coldwater” is a drama about accountability, power run amok, and finding justice.
Brad Lunders (P.J. Boudousque), a teenage drug dealer, is shipped off to a teen “boot camp,” the sort of place the exasperated parents of troubled teens send their kids in hopes of straightening them out. This camp is run by ex-Marine Frank Reichert (James C. Burns), who, much like the warden at Shawshank prison, promises that with obedience and discipline will come happiness.
But Brad is in no mood for cooperation and finds brutal penalties for disobedience or for falling behind on the backbreaking work and long runs in the sun. When the punishment goes too far for one, Brad decides he has to play along to survive.
Meanwhile, as Brad draws nearer to his “captors,” he has plans of his own, especially when a friend of his arrives in a new wave of “campers.”
Part revenge tale, part searing expose, “Coldwater” offers a question for those who cheer these sorts of boot camps: Do you really know to whom you’re turning over your children? With little real supervision or accountability, Frank becomes drunk with power, figuratively and literally, believing he can dodge responsibility as investigators begin sniffing around the compound.
Boudousque is a Ryan Gosling clone who more than acquits himself well in an indie role; he owns the film. His steely, expressive eyes are full of untamed principle and complete defiance. This is the kind of role that could get him noticed.
“Coldwater” could have just been a twist on prison movies, a “Cool Hand Luke” for the teen set. But where the juvenile delinquents of a generation ago would have been cheered, we now root for their humiliation and “straightening out.” Co-writers Mark Penney and Vince Grashaw (who also directs) ask an important question of the reality TV age: can the people to whom your entrust your kids succeed where you, as a parent, did not?
A compelling film, “Coldwater” is a must-see.