So this is what Ethan Hawke's brain looks like. Diving deeper than anyone would ever dare to go before, The Hottest State provides what is sure to be the clearest window we're ever been offered into ol' Slackass' dreamy psyche—a film based on Hawke's semi-autobiographical debut novel of the same name, adapted for the screen and directed by the man himself (with a supporting role in the cast thrown in for good measure). And suddenly, all of that middling, Douglas Coupland-inspired '90s cinema makes so much more sense.
Positing Oscar-nominated Maria Full of Grace star Catalina Sandino Moreno as his love interest, Hawke (here taking the form of youthful stand-in Mark Webber, doing a sappy, smug, and bone-chillingly convincing Hawke impersonation) takes us on a ride through the channels of his virile heart, just in time for its first proper break. This means, of course, that what we're in store for is roughly two hours of insipid profundity, volleyed annoyingly between two self-absorbed, desperately unlikeable people as they fall in and out of love.
As bad as it sounds (and believe me, it's BAD), it's difficult to find true fault in the frames of The Hottest State, simply because it accomplishes what it seems to set out to do: give an honest portrayal of how truly pathetic and awful it is to be in your early 20s, and how embarrassing it is to look back upon. This success—intentional or otherwise—is, of course, a double-edged sword. I mean, just how excited could anybody be to see a movie where the highest praise comes in the form of adjectives like "pathetic," "awful," and "embarrassing"? I never thought I'd say this, but I think Ethan Hawke just got too real with me.