SXSW 17 Film Review: Hot Summer Nights

If I’m being totally honest, I didn’t really know what to expect when I went to the world premiere screening of Hot Summer Nights at SXSW this year. It was debuting at the Paramount Theatre in Austin which usually means it’s got some potential for critical acclaim from SXSW, but without seeing a trailer or knowing much about the director or cast, seeing this film could have either been a waste of my time or end of being something on the hot-tip.

I’m pleased to say, Hot Summer Nights is hotly tipped.

It’s definitely a bit of an odd movie though and you should know that going into it. It’s one half John Hughes awkward teens with an important misunderstood point-of-view whilst the other half is dark and gritty, painful and sad. But when you tie it all together, somehow it works quite well and I found myself really into this film from first time director Elijah Bynum.

What is it about? Well, it’s the early 90s and it’s set in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Take an awkward teenager named Daniel (Timothée Chalamet) and pair him with the bromance of his dreams Hunter Strawberry (Alex Roe) who is the town rebel without a cause. Think 90210 Jason Priestly meets James Dean befriending the town dork who overnight goes from geek to chic once he’s BFFs with Hunter.

Daniel even gets into a forbidden relationship with Hunter’s sister which is one of the pivotal plot points of the movie. Next thing you know, Daniel and Hunter become the weed kings of the east coast with a business that is growing feverishly. And I’m sure you saw it coming, but once the weed business flourishes, that starts to create quite a few more illegal problems for the pair which plays out in both the comedic and the dramatic, but again all very watchable as it unfolds quite interestingly on the screen.

Why is it good? Well, the cast may be all newbies, but they are certainly easy on the eyes and all very talented new Hollywood types that you should all keep an eye one. Something tells me that the rest of the world is going to gravitate quite naturally towards Hot Summer Nights as it seems to be set for indie success following it’s rapturous reception at SXSW. With clever editing, narration and an engaging storyline, Hot Summer Nights is sure to be a surefire bet for one of the best young adult dramas of the year and it wouldn’t surprise me if this film ends up on a lot of top 10 underrated lists from the usual set of film pundits.

I wish I had a trailer to share, but this film is so fresh that the trailer hasn’t even been cut yet. You’ll just have to take my word that this is one film to watch out for and if you have a chance to see it, take that chance like I did – Hot Summer Nights will be one of those films you’ll have been happy to see in the cinema.