The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.”
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), a Texan living in New York, and Sara (Catalina Sandino Moreno), a beautiful Mexican who has moved to the city to pursue her singing career. Working closely with his actors and crew, Hawke uses simple, unassuming brush strokes to communicate the joy and misery—and the complexities—of romantic love. The film unfolds with an easy spontaneity that is both engaging and faintly ominous (we know where it’s heading because William informs us in voice-over). William’s trouble is that he has fallen in love—as my own attempt at autobiographical romance had it—with “a force of evil,” with unfathomable femininity.
Jake Horsley, © 2007