The Hottest State

Critics Consensus

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



Reviews Counted: 53

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,825


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Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.2/5

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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. Love is a fickle thing, though, and in the thriving world of young and talented artists, it isn't always enough to make a relationship last.


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Critic Reviews for The Hottest State

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (25)

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

Sep 22, 2008 | Full Review…

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.

Sep 21, 2007 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

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

Sep 21, 2007 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

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

Sep 18, 2007

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.

Sep 7, 2007 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

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.

Sep 7, 2007 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Hottest State


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.
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, 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."

Daniel Parsons
Daniel Parsons

Super Reviewer

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

William Goss
William Goss

Super Reviewer

[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][img][/img][/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]

William Dunmyer
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

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