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Despite strong performances and a unique style, The Hottest State is too self-conscious and pretentious to truly succeed.
All Critics (53)
| Top Critics (25)
| Fresh (17)
| Rotten (36)
| DVD (4)
If nothing else, Hawke has managed to recreate, with neurological immediacy, the sensation of being harassed by a selfish, clueless ex-lover.
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.
[The two main characters] are in all honesty the least sympathetic and most egregiously boring romantic pair that I've seen onscreen in ages.
It's a small film, it's a mild recommendation, but I still think it's worth checking out.
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.
Will the world be different, or their lives irrevocably changed, if they break up? I don't think so. Their tree falls in the forest, and nobody cares except the termites.
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.
The film is perfectly fine indie fare, but the plot and the characters seem a little more self-indulgently autobiographical than compelling.
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.
What's apparently deeply personal for Hawke winds up deeply torturous for the audience.
Moody relationship drama is best for adults.
Not the hottest movie.
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.
"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, naïve. 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."
Self-absorbed navel-gazing session at least has a tolerable soundtrack.
[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]
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