Calgary International Film Fest: The Hottest State

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Ethan Hawke’s film adaptation of his novel of same name, the Hottest State introduces us to William, a confused actor looking for love in New York. William, a product of divorced parents and dysfunctional home life, is searching for the love and acceptance that he lacked as a child. William finds this love in foreign beauty Sarah, and is immediately caught up in an unrealistic whirlwind romance that leads them to Mexico and an almost-marriage. On returning to New York, William is confused and hurt when Sarah decides that she wants to end their relationship. The result is some erratic behaviour by William, along with some over-the-top attempts at winning her back. Laura Linney provides a much-needed breath of fresh air as William’s mother, but sadly her screentime is short-lived. There are some sincere moments in the film, particularly between William and his estranged father (played by Hawke) but they fail to make up for the film’s flaws.

There is however a silver lining: the movie’s soundtrack itself is one of the most believable elements in the film. All the tracks where originals written for the movie by Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Jesse Harris and recorded by celebrated artists including Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, Bright Eyes, Feist and The Black Keys. Though the movie is long-winded and tedious, the soundtrack is worth seeking out.