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The Hottest State

A bad break-up movie
By PETER KEOUGH  |  September 5, 2007
2.0 2.0 Stars
inside_the-hottest-state
THE HOTTEST STATE: Mark Webber and Catalina Sandino Moreno as Dopey and Grumpy.

Breaking up is hard to do. So is making a movie about it. Ethan Hawke, in his adaptation of his own novel, doesn’t try very hard. Or maybe he tries too hard. Relating the ecstasy and the heartbreak that seem so unique at the time but are the common experience of pretty much everybody usually inspires sophomoric poetry — and that’s the case here. The casting doesn’t help. Mark Webber as Hawke stand-in William sports a stocking cap in one scene, and he resembles Dopey the Dwarf. The object of his obsession, Sarah (Catalina Sandino Moreno), might well be called Grumpy. Nothing in the montages of bliss and agony, the tortured voiceovers, the pang-filled etiolated flashbacks, or the wall-to-wall burbling soundtrack convinced me that this pair even liked each other, or that I should like them. When Laura Linney and Hawke himself enter as William’s parents, however, so does genuine feeling, so maybe this effort is just an awkward patch in a filmmaker’s development.
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