Release Date: August 24th, 2007 (Landmark Sunshine Cinemas) by THINKfilm.
The Cast: Mark Webber, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Laura Linney, Michelle Williams, Frank Whaley, Josh Zuckerman, Ethan Hawke, Sonia Braga.
Directed by Ethan Hawke.
BASIC PREMISE: William (Webber), an aspiring actor, falls in love with Sara (Moreno), an aspiring singer.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Despite solid performances, The Hottest State could have been much more absorbing with a stronger focus on character development and a more organic, tighter script. Mark Webber gives a decent performance as William, a young man who struggles with his acting career while falling for Sara, his first love. They meet at a rather unlikely place to meet a true love: a bar. Before the blink of an eye, she moves in with him and they go on a trip to Mexico, where they get quickly married. Sara stops along the way to introduce William to her mom (Braga), who disapproves of their relationship—especially that William doesn’t have a steady job to support Sara. The newly married couple runs into a few personal obstacles along the way which threatens their relationship. Soon enough, Sara leaves him to pursue her singing career while flirting with another man. Writer/director Ethan Hawke gradually fleshes one the obstacles, such as William’s dysfunctional relationship with his father, who had abandoned him. However, this subplot feels a bit too rushed, clichéd and contrived. Too much of the plot during the second act merely shows William pining for Sara and trying to get her back. None of his attempts are particularly interesting and they make him somewhat unlikable and even annoying. Crucial scenes between William and his estranged mother (Linney) and then with his father (Hawke) feel the most powerful and compelling, unfortunately, but too brief. Hawke should have had William interact with her earlier in the plot and then flesh out their relationship more so that the plot wouldn’t feel so meandering and dull. If only this could have been as believable and absorbing as the unforgettable romantic indie gem Once which has been playing in theaters since May.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Somewhat contrived and meandering.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 3
IN A NUTSHELL: Solid performances barely compensate for a somewhat contrived and meandering plot.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD
The "H" Menu