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The Hottest State (3 stars)

(15) 113min (Revolver retail/rental)

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The Hottest State

DRAMA

Actor, writer and now director Ethan Hawke’s respectable feature debut didn’t receive a cinema release in the UK, despite premiering at last August’s Edinburgh International Film Festival. Adapted by Hawke from his own semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, it’s a freewheeling, heartfelt romantic drama about a struggling actor from Texas (Mark Webber) and an aspiring singer (Catalina Sandino Moreno) trying and failing to make a go of it together in New York.

Hawke himself pops up as the kid’s bad father, and a decent cast that includes Laura Linney, Michelle Williams, Frank Whaley and Sonia Braga joins him. Taking his cue from fellow Texan filmmaker Richard Linklater (with whom Hawke penned the Oscar-nominated script for Before Sunset), The Hottest State is smart, talky, pleasantly meandering, well performed and just a little bit earnest. It certainly deserved a cinema release. You also get Hawke’s first short film, Straight to One as an extra.

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