Young love has rarely been as exhilarating--and as painful--as it is in Ethan Hawke's THE HOTTEST STATE.
The Oscar-nominated actor adapts his own novel for the screen in this romance set in New York City. When 20-year-old William (Mark Webber, BROKEN FLOWERS) meets Sara (Catalina Sandino Moreno) at a bar in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, he falls fast and hard. He's an actor while she's struggling to be a singer, and their creative, nervous personalities make them a combustible couple.
From their playful acting-out of their future break-up to the pain of the event when it actually occurs, their relationship is a series of highs and lows familiar to anyone who's felt the emotions of 20-something romance.
As a director and screenwriter, Hawke clearly admires his frequent collaborator, Richard Linklater. The pair has made many films together, most notably BEFORE SUNRISE and its sequel BEFORE SUNSET, and like these films, Hawke's THE HOTTEST STATE isn't driven by an elaborate plot.
Instead, it relies on dialogue and on the relationship of its characters to move the film forward. The romance between William and Sarah feels genuine from its sweet inception to its heartbreaking end.
Hawke has assembled a great cast here, including Webber and Oscar nominee Michelle Williams, but it's the women who play the couple's mothers who really shine. As Sarah's overbearing mother, Sonia Braga is captivating in her performance.
In the small but pivotal role of William's mom, Laura Linney displays as much talent as she's brought to meatier parts in films such as YOU CAN COUNT ON ME. The film's soundtrack is just as impressive as its cast, with offerings from indie favorites such as Cat Power and Feist. Songwriter Jesse Harris wrote the songs, and they're the perfect accompaniment to this intimate film about love and heartbreak.