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The Hottest State (2007)


Average Rating: 4.8/10
Reviews Counted: 54
Fresh: 17
Rotten: 37

Critics Consensus: Despite strong performances and a unique style, The Hottest State is too self-conscious and pretentious to truly succeed.

Average Rating: 4.9/10
Reviews Counted: 26
Fresh: 9
Rotten: 17

Critics Consensus: Despite strong performances and a unique style, The Hottest State is too self-conscious and pretentious to truly succeed.


Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 4,805




Movie Info

Soon after relocating from Texas to New York in a bid to make the big time, a 21-year-old actor enters into a turbulent relationship with a struggling singer/songwriter in writer/director Ethan Hawke's screen adaptation of his own debut novel. William (Mark Webber) is an aspiring actor with dreams of making it big. Upon arriving in New York City, William soon enters into a tenuous romance with Sarah (Catalina Sandino Moreno), a talented musician with a winning voice and keen songwriting skills. … More

PG-13 (adult situations/language, sex)
Directed By:
Written By:
Ethan Hawke
In Theaters:
Dec 4, 2007


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Critic Reviews for The Hottest State

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (37) | DVD (4)

If nothing else, Hawke has managed to recreate, with neurological immediacy, the sensation of being harassed by a selfish, clueless ex-lover.

Full Review… | September 22, 2008
The New Republic
Top Critic

Everything we see is tinted by a rose-colored self-fondness, down to the perfectly mussed bedheads, the unusually capacious apartments, the lousy bar music that's supposed to be really good.

Full Review… | September 22, 2007
Time Out New York
Top Critic

The movie is crisply shot and obviously heartfelt, but search elsewhere if you want the same honesty Hawke displayed as an actor in 1995's Before Sunrise and its 2004 sequel Before Sunset.

Full Review… | September 21, 2007
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic

[The two main characters] are in all honesty the least sympathetic and most egregiously boring romantic pair that I've seen onscreen in ages.

Full Review… | September 21, 2007
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

It's a small film, it's a mild recommendation, but I still think it's worth checking out.

September 18, 2007
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

The main point I can extract from Ethan Hawke's The Hottest State is that even a peevish and self-centered young man is capable of feeling great anguish when his girlfriend dumps him.

Full Review… | September 7, 2007
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Breaking up is hard to do. So is making a movie about it. Ethan Hawke, in his adaptation of his own novel, doesn't try very hard. Or maybe he tries too hard.

Full Review… | April 23, 2009
Boston Phoenix

The film is perfectly fine indie fare, but the plot and the characters seem a little more self-indulgently autobiographical than compelling.

Full Review… | August 26, 2008

Though there are some nutty and offbeat moments in The Hottest State, these young characters fail to generate any chemistry or 'heated state,' despite their tender years and simmering hormones.

Full Review… | December 4, 2007

What's apparently deeply personal for Hawke winds up deeply torturous for the audience.

Full Review… | November 8, 2007

Moody relationship drama is best for adults.

Full Review… | October 22, 2007
Common Sense Media

Not the hottest movie.

Full Review… | September 23, 2007

This is a beautifully made, involving film, but it would have been so much stronger with a bit of careful editing.

Full Review… | September 22, 2007
Shadows on the Wall

The Hottest State lacks heat.

Full Review… | September 21, 2007
Austin Chronicle

The passionate Mexican interlude, the Shakespearean pleas to yonder windows, and the naive, earnest pillow talk all melt into one self-indulgent, faux-hipstery soup.

Full Review… | September 14, 2007

It's nothing new, but [writer/director Ethan] Hawke captures some evocative textures and honest moments.

Full Review… | September 13, 2007
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The dialogue comes off as too carefully planned and too precious, and Webber's overly physical performance doesn't seem to match the character's insecurity.

Full Review… | September 6, 2007
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for The Hottest State

[size=3]"The Hottest State" from writer/director [b]Ethan Hawke[/b], could have been fantastic. It is ultra-realistic, focusing on the anxieties, hopes and challenges of real people. Where other films invent absurd situations for dramatic effect, "The Hottest State" stays resolutely in tune with real life as it is lived for the vast majority of Americans. I loved this about it.[/size]


[size=3]The problem is that through most of the film I found the characters insufferably boring and annoying. Being in their presence was at times torturous. It wasn't an interesting depiction of boring people. It was a boring depiction of boring people. It does come together well in the end, when one of the characters finally makes a change in his life. But the beginning and middle were so horrendous that I can't say the end is worth waiting for. [/size][size=3]Hawke (who also plays a supporting role) strikes me as the kind of filmmaker who has fantastic ideas but just can't turn them into good films.[/size]

Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer


The pacing is quite fractured and the dialogue doesn't always work perfectly, but I personally enjoyed this film to a great extent. Overall, it's a very well-written piece guided by subtle direction from Hawke and excellent performances from the entire cast. Sad, engaging and driven by a sense of rare honesty.

Mike T.

Super Reviewer


"Don't you find it odd that when you're a kid everyone in the whole world tells you to follow your dreams, and when you're older they act all offended if you even try?" The Hottest State is Ethan Hawke all over: he directs it, has written the screenplay, wrote the book it is based on and has a small part. The story also feels very much in his ideals; bohemian, 'beat', incredibly romantic, na´ve. It's probably an acquired taste (obviously those who dislike Hawke aren't going to have a good time) but it's one I fell for. Excellently adapted from Hawke's debut novel, it tells the story of how William, shortly before turning 21, quickly falls desperately, hopelessly in love with Sara - an aspiring singer he meets at a bar. The story tells of their short, powerful relationship (entirely from William's perspective but not always from his bias) - as William says in voice-over, his heart would be broken by the time he turns 21. The slow pace makes the most of some truly beautiful photography and is very well shot - often in gorgeous sunlight - with much talking between the two leads about their romance and their future (think very much Before Sunrise/Sunset). The film would fall apart without good lead performances but luckily the casting is spot on: Mark Webber is stunning as William (the New York Post compared him to a young Gary Oldman or Marlon Brando) and Catalina Sandino Moreno gets it perfect as Sara (we can see why William falls in love with her whilst also understanding that her peculiarities may just hide a boring personality, not necessarily an interesting one). Michelle Williams brings personality to a tiny part and Laura Linney and Hawke himself are both wonderful as William's parents. A very romantic romance, made from the heart with care and attention. "I didn't break your heart. Your heart was broken a long time before you met me."

Daniel Parsons

Super Reviewer

Self-absorbed navel-gazing session at least has a tolerable soundtrack.

William Goss

Super Reviewer

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