Synopsis

In the summer of 1991, a sheltered teenage boy comes of age during a wild summer he spends in Cape Cod getting rich from selling pot to gangsters, falling in love for the first time, partying and eventually realizing that he is in over his head.

Director

Elijah Bynum

Cast

Timothée Chalamet
as Daniel Middleton
Maika Monroe
as McKayla Strawberry
Alex Roe
as Hunter Strawberry
Maia Mitchell
as Amy Calhoun
Thomas Jane
as Sergeant Calhoun

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by CreativeSpark 7 /10

It's not perfect!

Tonight I choose to check this film out. Honestly, anything A24 releases is always good! That said, I really liked this film. However, it's not perfect. I really didn't understand the main characters initial motivation for why he was doing, what he was doing, girl aside. His thirsty choices didn't really make much sense to me.

However, on the technical aspect of the movie. I really loved the flow of the film and the editing. Also, the soundtrack is sweet! the cinematography, colour, and acting was spot on. This is a film I would still recommend and would give it another watch even with the minor flaws. Because it's entertaining and has a real summer nostalgic, crime, a dark coming of age feel to it.

I'd give this a 7 out of 10.

Reviewed by nehpetstephen 4 /10

Stylish but shallow

If given some other writer's screenplay and a directive to restrain himself, director Elijah Bynum could probably make an excellent film. It's true that he blatantly rips off other directors here (Martin Scorsese and P.T. Anderson, most notably), but in doing so it's undeniable that he has proficiency and panache with a camera and, more importantly, a fine ability to work with actors. I'm sure he'll earn an opportunity to direct a second picture soon; although this movie was a critical failure, I can see this being a big hit with the teenagers it's clearly intended for.

The flaws of Hot Summer Nights all derive from its erratic screenplay, which is derivative, juvenile, and incredibly hollow. Bynum has chosen to have the film be narrated by a mostly unseen fringe character--a 13-year-old with a preternatural omniscience concerning the town's gossip. This narration is obnoxious and unnecessary--the best stretch of the movie is the 50 minutes or so where the narration disappears completely--and all it yields are unfunny riffs on sex that belittle the movie's female lead; an air of legendary, larger-than-life status that doesn't quite match the actual movie we're presented; and some incredibly trite observations about class consciousness in a New England tourist town.

That last one is worth thinking about for a moment. The film is introduced as a conflict between haves and have-nots, with townies opposed to summerbirds in a vein similar to Breaking Away or The Outsiders. We're shown preppily dressed vacationers with "white clothes and white teeth," and we're meant to focus on the advantages these privileged people have over our main characters. But the division as presented in this film never rises above mere cliquishness. There's no real material difference that's ever explored in any meaningful way--which is to say, even the "townies" seem pretty well-off to me.

That's one thread that never goes anywhere, but if you start pulling at that thread then the whole thing starts to unravel and you realize you've just got a pile of old rags that was temporarily gussied up to look like something more impressive. Bynum knows how to blend impressive camerawork, solid performances, and a fun soundtrack into something entertaining, but he's put extremely little effort into developing his characters or crafting a meaningful story. That's a shame because Timothée Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Emory Cohen, and the rest of the cast are all very talented and compelling young actors. They nearly succeed in making it seem as though their characters have plausible motivations and consistent personalities, when ultimately what's really going on here is that Bynum just wanted to remake Goodfellas with teenagers.

What drives Daniel Middleton? What does his father's death really have to do with anything? Why does he make the reckless decisions that he does in spite of sound advice to the contrary? What exactly is he trying to prove? What other paths are there for him in life? What other desires, interests, fears, and influences does he have? If you start trying to understand Daniel's character, you see that there's absolutely nothing beneath the surface. Likewise with McKayla. Hunter is given a sliver of nuance, but the action climax--which steals directly from Boogie Nights and Goodfellas--renders all of that moot. This is a movie in which the last word will be given to a 13-year-old speaking wistfully about his sex fantasies. Stand By Me this ain't.

Reviewed by oaksong 9 /10

Not your usual coming of age story

Daniel is bright but probably not given enough work to keep him interested in school. Summer's about to start and his mother decides to send him to live with her sister on the coast. He falls in with a crowd that isn't that ambitious and decides to raise the level of play, so to speak.

Tim Chalamet as Daniel brings a sweetness and innocence to the story that makes it very believable. Daniel has no idea what he's gotten himself into and how very nasty that world can be. A girl who would normally be out of his league flirts with him as a joke, which he takes seriously having no real social experiences, and this leads to more trouble.

It's good to know, and hard to learn, what parts of life can be taken lightly and when things need to be taken seriously.

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