The Hottest State

  • Review Date: December 3, 2007
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 116 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Moody relationship drama is best for adults.
  • Review Date: December 3, 2007
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 116 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Lovers quarrel, sometimes violently (throwing things and screaming at each other, but no hitting). William's behavior at some points borders on stalking. Parents abandon their children, fight in front of them, and harp on them in cruel, unsympathetic ways. Plenty of drinking and references to casual sex.

Violence

William's parents fight bitterly in front of him as a child; later, William upends a table when he's angry at Sara. Some door-slamming, shoving, and lots of yelling.

Sex

Plenty of sex and sex talk throughout (though the subject is handled quite reverentially, not crudely). Couples make out and make love. One scene shows both the main characters disrobing, with Sara totally naked from the front -- though the moment doesn't last too long -- and William from the back. There are also scenes in which William straddles Sara naked, plus lots of heaving and clutching at each other and one scene where a belt is unbuckled before an implied sex act. Sara tells a detailed story about an ex-boyfriend's sexual betrayal.

Language

Numerous uses of "f--k" in sexual as well as angry contexts, as well as "s--t" and "bitch."

Consumerism

Shots of cigarette packs and a beer bottle with their labels showing. Many mentions of Tennessee Williams and his plays.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots of drinking and smoking -- beer seems to be the social lubricant of choice. Some scenes show the lead characters clearly inebriated.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although the protagonists in Ethan Hawke's romantic drama are barely out of their teens -- which could intrigue some young viewers -- the movie tackles very adult themes from beginning to end, including love, sex, and heartbreak. Ultimately, it's an often-bleak portrait that may be disturbing to tweens and younger teens. The parents are deeply flawed, even cold; the lovers are confused and sometimes hurtful (even bordering on violent, though there's no hitting). Expect plenty of four-letter words, sex scenes (though they're fairly tastefully shot), and even brief full-frontal female nudity.

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

In this surprisingly moving drama based on his novel of the same name, Ethan Hawke renders a painfully realistic picture of love and heartache. William Harding (Mark Webber) is a twentysomething New York City actor who likes to talk and looks longingly at the neighbors as they make out on the stoop. William may have slept with plenty of women, but he's still besotted with the idea of how love begins because his own parents met in a storybook way (though their marriage ended bitterly): His mother (Laura Linney) fell in love with the way his father (played by Hawke) told a joke. Then William meets Sara Garcia (Catalina Sandino Moreno), a college dropout-turned-musician. Instantly, they're entwined; after just four days, "there were flowers in [his] apartment and hummus in [his] refrigerator." But after a magical week in Mexico, where they almost elope, Sara pulls away, taking William's heart with her.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the film's take on falling in and out of love. Is it really that messy and problematic? Or do these overly complicated beginnings (and endings) just happen in movies? If so, why is love so heightened and exaggerated in the media? Does the picture that the media paints of love influence our real-life expectations? How so?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 24, 2007
DVD release date:December 4, 2007
Cast:Catalina Sandino Moreno, Laura Linney, Mark Webber
Director:Ethan Hawke
Studio:THINKFilm
Genre:Drama
Run time:116 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sexual content and language.

This review of The Hottest State was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide