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The Hottest State

4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Days before his 21st birthday, William, a young actor, meets Sara, a seductive singer/songwriter. William quickly falls madly in love with Sara and embarks on a journey that takes him from a Lower East Side tenement to a Mexican hotel room and through the emotional extremities of passion, rage, and need. Yearning for someone to love him back, William's journey forces him to come to terms with his own past and the father he barely knows.

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At first glance, Ethan Hawke's follow-up to Chelsea Walls is the ballad of a self-absorbed actor and an enigmatic singer. Below the surface, things are more complicated. An adaptation of his 1996 novel, The Hottest State feels more like an exorcism than a love story. Twenty-year-old William (Mark Webber, Broken Flowers), a Texan based in New York, falls for Sarah (Catalina Sandino Moreno, Maria Full of Grace) moments after meeting her. In an instant, they've shacked up together, but she refuses to sleep with him. When he lands a job in Mexico, she agrees to come along, and they finally consummate their relationship. After that, though, she starts to withdraw. The more she moves away, the more desperate William becomes. As depictions of young love go, this one is more painful to watch than most, not because the acting is bad--the cast includes Hawke as William's father, Laura Linney as his mother, and Sonia Braga as Sarah's mother--but because a little William goes a long way. Aside from his anger control issues, he never stops talking. The entire story feels heavily autobiographical, down to William bragging to Sarah that he's a great actor. Assuming the young Hawke was just as boorish, the unvarnished honesty of his portrayal is to be commended. No doubt the writing of the book and directing of the film has helped him to move on, but that doesn't make The Hottest State comfortable viewing--though Jesse Harris's tuneful soundtrack helps to smooth the way. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Sonia Braga, Daniel Ross, Jesse Harris, Mark Webber, Catalina Sandino Moreno
  • Directors: Ethan Hawke
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: VELOCITY / THINKFILM
  • DVD Release Date: December 4, 2007
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000URDE8S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,035 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sarah Himmelreich on February 6, 2008
Format: DVD
This is one of my favorite movies. The cast is stellar and it has a great soundtrack. Beyond that, it is one of the most "real" love stories I have ever seen in a movie. You can very easily see yourself in the shoes of the characters.
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Format: DVD
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. Hawke's film 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.
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Format: DVD
In spite of critics reviews, I loved this film from start to finish. Wonderfully shot, delicately scripted, better than you'd really expect. The soundtrack is so deftly placed, it's as if it where a third character. It's a picture of a life in fractured state, but oh, how beautiful.

It's a near perfect blend of self-indulgence with a sense of humility. I was truly glad I saw this film, after months of ignoring and thinking that I would not like it.
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Format: DVD
Ethan Hawke is known to the wide audiences as an actor and Uma Thurman's former husband. But Ethan is more than that: he is a writer of the novel and screenplay "The Hottest State" and he is a film director. In this independent film, Hawke tells a (universal) story of the first love. Kind that we feel only when we are young: it is intense, all consuming, irrational and wild. And when it is not returned with the same measure, or worse yet, when it is outright rejected by one of the people in the relationship, it can incapacitate person for a long time. It is at that time of hardship that we turn to people closest to us - our parents - in search of some advice, wisdom and guidance on how to overcome such overbearing emotional chaos. While film touches up life experiences most of us can relate to, I had an eerie feeling that, for Hawke, it is deeply autobiographical and personal account. In some moments, I felt like Hawke was loosing his way of being authentic - he shows two lovers in the hotel room where the girl has a tablecloth on her head, that simulates Spanish headscarf - almost like homage to one of the Picasso's paintings of his first wife Olga. Hawke is also paying homage to 20 years ago old movies like "The Last Picture Show" and "Paris, Texas" both fine movies, but "The Hottest State" just does not meet their intensity. Very fine music in this film, definitely good taste. Lots of potential here, but young Ethan Hawke has lots to learn yet. Let's hope he and Peter Bogdanovich ("The Last Picture Show"'s director) get to know each other well, so Bigdanovich can mentor young Hawke about directing and visual arts (paintings). While Sonia Braga was great, Laura Linney's performance was not up to the level I am used to seeing her at. Ethan Hawke himself also has a small, but powerful role in this movie.
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Format: DVD
This film completely captures the search for perfect total love by youth. The boy, all of 20, meets "the one" who is supposed to be his true love. While portraying the adventure of falling for someone, it also covers the fear and naked exposure. What you get is the dialogue in the boy's mind about it in retrospect, as he views it heartbrokenly. OK, he is self-absorbed and quick to rage, as many reviewers criticize, but he is only 20 for heaven's sake - he will grow beyond it, which in many ways is the true message of the film. Life can be a terrible struggle at that age: sensitivities are extreme, experience lacks depth and hence offers little solace from pain, and childhood trauma casts a powerful shadow.

Mark Webber plays the role with great subtlety, though I think saying he is a new Brando goes a bit far. Much of his acting is in his body language and the atmosphere he brings with him, which are the marks of true talent. The girl is played expertly by Moreno. Of course, her agenda differs from his and she is unwilling to fulfill the role he has created for her in his mind. (After all, you only want what you cannot really get as a youth.) She is at turns manipulative, caring, vulnerable, beautiful, plain, fascinating, and dull. Linney is great in her cameos as the struggling mother who made some poor choices. Braga's cameo as a manipulative alcoholic mother is pitch perfect.

This is not an easy film to watch, but it rang very very true for me. Warmly recommended.
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