The Hottest State (2007)
Critic Consensus: Despite strong performances and a unique style, The Hottest State is too self-conscious and pretentious to truly succeed.
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Critic Reviews for The Hottest State
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.
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.
"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.
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