The Hottest State | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Hottest State

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As a director Ethan Hawke has learned a great deal from his mentor, Richard Linklater: this second feature, which Hawke adapted from his own novel, trades in the emotional myopia of young love but treats it with enough respect to generate thoughtful, adult drama. A young Texas actor (Mark Webber) arrives in New York City and falls for an aspiring folk rocker (Catalina Sandino Moreno), then learns after she dumps him that no amount of self-dramatizing ardor will resolve the problems in their relationship. Hawke's script is admirably light-handed in showing how the hero's unreasoning passion is fueled by his parents' painful divorce, and despite the story's date-movie aspects, its most penetrating observations come not from the kids but from the young man's estranged father and mother (Hawke and Laura Linney, both superb). R, 117 min. a Pipers Alley. --J.R. Jones

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