Parents' Guide to

The Hottest State

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Moody relationship drama is best for adults.

Movie R 2007 116 minutes
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The film feels somewhat slack in its early stages, meandering like it has all the time in the world. It's also far too stylized; like William, it's a little too deliberately unkempt. The scenes in which William and Sara dance around each other, trying to figure out whether they should plunge ahead, are labored by actorly dialogue, though they pull it off with aplomb. (Other lines feel much more genuine, as when William says of Sara, "She was human. The most human person I'd ever met, and that was sexy.") Hawke proves fairly effective at capturing the giddiness of falling in love, but he really finds his groove when the relationship abruptly falls apart and emotions get messy. He teases achingly truthful performances out of both leads (in the supporting cast, Michelle Williams is excellent as William's sometime-girlfriend). Viewers feel awkward sympathy for William, who just can't let go, and for Sara, too, who realizes she's not ready for intimacy -- at least, not the kind that William, who says he "loved every thought she ever had," is offering. When the film metamorphoses from a simple love-gone-awry piece into a full-bodied story and a statement on how our parents' marriage influences -- no, steers -- our own relationships, it finally feels satisfying.

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