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The Hottest State

The Hottest State

…”Of course, it’s largely up to the actors to make this sort of pared-down pas de deux work. Playing an obvious variation on a younger, more enthusiastic Ethan Hawke, Mark Webber, who’s never been this verbal or alert onscreen (in other films he’s been often dour, eyes downcast), has also never seemed more right for a role–he’s surprisingly likable both as a blurting, confident courter and as a heartsick empty shell. Meanwhile, Catalina Sandino Moreno again enchants, juggling playful shyness, burgeoning sexuality, and finally, baffling betrayal. Hawke encourages the actress’s rare, glowing timidity, which is truly uncommon to film. Though Sara is meant to be something of an abstraction (the film is, of course, from William’s point of view), the actress shows enough warmth and quiet inner conflict to make us understand his love for her as well as her inexplicable need to move on. Most importantly, Hawke never demonizes Sara, who in other films could be seen as villainously indifferent, according her a respectful distance. In one especially nice wintry moment outside her mother’s house, Sara rebuffs William’s sexual advances when he doesn’t have a condom. “You wanna get me pregnant?” she asks directly. When he responds affirmatively from off-screen, she delivers the line, with no actorly grandstanding “Don’t say that.” And Hawke leaves his camera trained on her reaction.”

Click here to read Michael Koresky’s entire review of Ethan Hawke’s The Hottest State.

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