6.2/10
2,439
15 user 45 critic

The Hottest State (2006)

A young actor from Texas tries to make it in New York while struggling in his relationship with a beautiful singer/songwriter.

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(screenplay), (novel)
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
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Young Vince (as Daniel Ross)
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John Jaegerman (as Glen Powell Jr.)
Anne Clarke ...
Young Jesse
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Danielle
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Decker
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Bill Dobrow ...
Drummer
Jon Fowler ...
Bassist
Guyora Kats ...
Pianist / Accordian Player
Nick McDonnel ...
Artsy Guy
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Kim (as Alexandra Daddorio)
...
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Storyline

A young actor from Texas tries to make it in New York while struggling in his relationship with a beautiful singer/songwriter.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What happens when your first love is love itself?

Genres:

Drama | Music | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content and language | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 March 2007 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Alithinos erotas  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$8,524 (USA) (24 August 2007)

Gross:

$30,629 (USA) (21 September 2007)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Jesse: [to William] Your whole life, people are gonna ask you to be weak. They're gonna practically beg you. But all anyone really wants is for you to be strong.
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Connections

References Splendor in the Grass (1961) See more »

Soundtracks

The Speed of Sound
Written by Jesse Harris
Performed by Emmylou Harris
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User Reviews

 
Ethan Hawke's Confessional: The Hottest State
13 December 2007 | by See all my reviews

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.


21 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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