From Michael Rechstaffen’s 3.14.18 SXSW review: “Visually atmospheric but tonally all over the place, Hot Summer Nights” — what a banal-ass title! — “has much to appreciate but ultimately possesses the sampler-platter vibe of a director’s demo reel.
“Set on Cape Cod during the particularly scorching summer of 1991, Elijah Bynum‘s drama [zeroes in on vacationing] Daniel (Timothee Chalamet) forming a pot-dealing partnership with bad boy Hunter (Alex Roe). Add to this a steamy relationship with Hunter’s sister McKayla (Maika Monroe). Pic’s initially hyper pace gives way to needlessly protracted takes, often featuring extreme close-ups of characters quietly revealing painful truths.
“Things pick up a bit as destructive Hurricane Bob is gathering strength, but by that point, the all-too-apparent two-hour running time is also weighing heavily without enough plot to fill it.
“Director-writer Bynum admittedly coaxes sensitive performances from his photogenic cast, especially Chalamet, Roe, Monroe and Emory Cohen as a self-styled thug, and makes for a terrific music curator, given the ’60s and ’70s song choices that permeate many of the scenes. In the future, should he manage to add a little more discipline to the mix, his sophomore effort could hold considerable promise.”