Hot Summer Nights
Director: Elijah Bynum
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Alex Roe, Emory Cohen, Thomas Jane, Maia Mitchell
Runtime: 107 minutes
Hot Summer Nights is a coming-of-age story. There. I said it. It is, and it needs to be told that it is so much more than that. You have to lift up the hood and look at it. So that’s what we are going to do.
Cape Cod. 1991. Summertime. It’s such a unique backdrop for a movie, and I can’t say I have seen this exact town in this time before. Daniel (Chalamet) is shipped off to spend the summer with his Aunt in this coastal Massachusetts town. He doesn’t know anybody, and he is caught between the classes. He isn’t a townie, someone who lives there year-round; and he isn’t a summer bird, someone who comes to stay the summer in their million dollar beach houses. While not fitting in at a local party, Daniel sees Hunter Strawberry (Alex Roe). Hunter is a smooth talking bad boy that sells the townspeople their illegal drugs. By chance, Daniel has an opportunity to help Hunter out and then the two become friends. Soon, he meets McKayla (Maika Monroe), and she is a supposed townie that has a future. From here, Daniel enters into the world of shady doings and freedom and first love, but there is a such thing as “too much too fast.”
These are the type of movies we need more of. An interesting place and time with good dialogue and even better characters. Chalamet’s Daniel might not be a likable character, but he plays that character well just as we saw in 2017’s Lady Bird. Hunter Strawberry is the best character here, and I can’t explain why. He is the guy that everyone loves and can’t resist. He oozes sex and screams danger, but you still like him. He had a rough life, and he continues that life despite the reasons not to. He is a layered character, and I was glad we got to see the layers before the credits rolled. Also, in a very secondary role, Thomas Jane plays the local authority, Sergeant Calhoun, that grew up in Cape Cod and knows the ins and outs and maybe even had his own rough past. Jane has such limited screen time but nails this character. Calhoun could have easily been this one-note throwaway character, but then we are given a scene that turns him three dimensional.
Hot Summer Nights is not pretty. It does not depict pretty things. We see an ugly world where drugs equal money and a lifestyle that is assumed to be wanted. Luckily, there is a scene where the audience and one of the characters learn that this life can get ugly. It can become more than you asked for and sometimes you can’t go back once you cross a certain line. I highly recommend this film to anyone. The setting, the characters, the soundtrack, the experience. It’s all there for you. You just need to sit back a take it in.
Hot Summer Nights a coming-of-age story. A tragically beautiful coming-of-age story.
Hot Summer Nights
This coming-of-age story is a must see that will be at the upper tier of people's year-end lists.