The Hottest State (2006)

Mark Webber, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Laura Linney, Daniel Ross Owens,
The Hottest State is a movie starring Mark Webber, Catalina Sandino Moreno, and Laura Linney. A young actor from Texas tries to make it in New York while struggling in his relationship with a beautiful singer/songwriter.
  • 6.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Ethan Hawke, Director:
  • Alexis Alexanian, Yukie Kito, Producer:

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9 / 10

Beautiful dialogue and real emotions

I saw this film in Venice on Saturday 2 September. I absolutely loved it!

I haven't read the book , so cannot comment on how faithful the film is, however I really enjoyed it, and it was certainly the best I saw in Venice.

The story made me really emotional. I could see myself or my friends at 20 years old and recognised a lot of emotional patterns that are typical of growing up.

The actors are all amazing. The two main characters have got a freshness and grace about them that make them beautiful to watch. Laura Linney and Ethan Hawke play the parents wonderfully.

It is a very sexy and raw film, but delicate at the same time.

For anyone who has ever fallen in love and had his heart broken for the very first time. It made me cry a lot and I thank Ethan Hawke for it!

8 / 10

Ethan Hawke's Confessional: The Hottest State

Written and directed by Ethan Hawke, and based on Hawke's (I presume) autobiographical novel of the same name, The Hottest State is an intensely personal movie. Yet unlike, say, Woody Allen's autobiographical films (Annie Hall, Stardust Memories, Husbands and Wives), Hawke's personality doesn't flood his material. Hawke is quite casual about baring his soul to us, and audiences may not be aware how deeply he takes them into his psyche. But he holds nothing back.

The film recounts a brief, magical love affair between 20-year-old William (Mark Webber), Texas-born living in New York, and Sara (Catalina Sandino Moreno), a beautiful Mexican who has moved to the city to pursue her singing career. The film unfolds with an easy, natural spontaneity that is both engaging and faintly ominous (we know where it's heading because William informs us in voice-over). Working with his actors and crew, Hawke uses simple, unassuming brush strokes to communicate the joy and misery, and the complexity, of falling in love. William's trouble is that he has fallen in love with "a force of evil," which is to say, with unfathomable femininity.

The Hottest State shows the futility of romantic desire without ever opting for self-pity or easy cynicism. Hawke imbues the film with the wisdom and acceptance of a broken heart made stronger and freer by the breakage. The film is so faithful to his own experience that it gets at something universal, and cuts all the way to the bone. As a result, it may stir feelings we'd rather not have to deal with, ones we'd hoped we'd put to rest. I don't think I have ever seen a romantic film that manages to be this painful without being in the least bit sentimental. It's not so much about the sadness of watching a great love die, but about the horror and incomprehensibility of it.

Although it's raw and almost nakedly personal, there's nothing amateurish about the film. Hawke's handling of his actors is flawless, and just about every scene resonates, rings bells of recognition. In scene after scene, Hawke seems to have got precisely what he was after. His use of the soundtrack (songs by Jesse Harris), free-form editing, overlapping scenes, voice-over, the rich, sensuous colors and his knack for placing the camera just where it needs to be, all is remarkably assured, making this probably the most auspicious debut from a writer-director since Sean Penn's Indian Runner. The Hottest State is a wonderful film and I felt richer for having seen it; and it deserves a wider audience, because so far as I know it did little business and got Luke-warm notices. Another precious gem in danger of slipping under the radar.

The film is a little soft around the edges. Some of the dialogue (particularly between William and his mother, played by Laura Linney, and in the crucial scene with William's father, played by Hawke) may be a little too pat. We're aware of Hawke's limitations as a writer here, of his putting words into the characters' mouths instead of letting them speak for themselves (which is the problem with Sara's last few scenes). But considering what Hawke is attempting here?adapting his own novel, directing it, and playing a key role?it's an astonishingly assured work.

Like Penn, Hawke has an authentic artistic sensibility, and with any luck he could become a major filmmaker. He's so confident of getting to the truth of a scene that he achieves poetry without trying, without even a whiff of pretension. The film has a raw honesty to it, and yet it never seems self-indulgent or narcissistic. It's confessional in the best sense. It's as if getting these experiences down (in the novel, which I haven't read, and by making the film) was essential for Hawke's peace of mind, as if by sharing his pain and confusion with us, he was able to come to terms with the past and reduce its hold over him. As a result, the film has urgency and poignancy, it feels essential, from the heart. I can't think of another film that conveys the agony of heartbreak and the rite of passage it entails as effectively as this. It has its very own ache.

7 / 10

Middle-of-the-road enjoyable, yet subtly insightful

I've liked Hawke as an actor but didn't go into this film with high expectations. I was surprised at how competently this was made. While it covers fairly safe territory - a romantic drama - it does it with nice visuals and some originality. The protagonist William (Mark Webber) is a bit of a slacker, yet he was introspective enough to try to resolve some of his own issues when his lover Sarah (Catalina Sandino Moreno) splits and leaves him broken-hearted. The fact that this was tackled from the male perspective, and grappled with some psychological insight gave the film some gravitas. Mind you, how deeply a twenty-one year old can delve into his psyche is another thing.

I found the film quite enjoyable, more than superficial, but still largely in the "middle-of-the-road" category - not that that's a bad thing. The cinematography was great, and there were nice camera angles. The music was nice but sometimes a little intrusive. While it's the type of film that's likely to do well at Sundance (maybe it has, I don't know), it's a lot better than the quirky comedies like Little Miss Sunshine et al. This film could do well on general release and was an OK film to add some variation to my MIFF viewings, but nothing to rave about. A good effort by Hawke (who is also a guest speaker at the festival).

9 / 10

Must See

Fabulous movie. The dichotomy of the two characters' personalities is simply amazing. Throughout every emotion, scene, and heartache, you feel what the characters are feeling, want what they want, see what they see. The buildup to the climax of their love in Mexico is astounding and perfectly written. This is easily a cult classic, for any indie film lover. The week in Mexico just makes you want to fall in love if only for a week. I love the innocence, yet ambiguity of Sarah's character. Is she real or not?? The lead actor are PERFECT for their respective roles. This film has amazing street credibility. The only downside to this movie is that the role of Williams parents is minimalist, confusing, and rather pointless. This storyline just did not amalgamate well with the film.

8 / 10

My Heart Is Golden: Young love won't make it

The movie primarily is a love story about an actress and a singer meeting at a bar, and than moving in together, but it's so much more than that. It's a movie that tackles abandonment issues,first love, heart ache, ambition, the journey of life and all the questions it leaves us with.

This movie is comical, some of Williams pick up lines were just grand. Overall his character is interesting to watch. A young vessel full of love and rage, an emotional train wreck who fell head over heels for a girl.

The movie is very solid. Full of good acting, good music, good script writing. It's definitely a flick worth watching. The best film i have ever seen on young love.