A24’s upcoming Hot Summer Nights is a a torrid thriller about small-town misdeeds that erupt in passion and violence. Set in Cape Cod in the early 90’s the film is the confident and assured debut feature from writer-director Elijah Bynum starring Timothée Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Alex Roe, Maia Mitchell.
The film tells the story of Daniel Middleton (Timothée Chalamet), a likable but socially awkward recent high-school graduate, who is spending the summer before college visiting his aunt on Cape Cod. Neither a “townie” nor a wealthy “summer bird” dropping in for the season, Daniel struggles to find his place—until he meets Hunter Strawberry (Alex Roe), the local bad-boy who peddles marijuana to well-off vacationers when he isn’t protecting his younger sister McKayla (Maika Monroe) from overzealous male suitors. Sensing an opportunity, Daniel persuades Hunter to go into business, dealing weed up and down the Cape together as the summer heat intensifies.
Hot Summer Nights is an ambitious debut film by Elijah Bynum who manages to weave this tale of excess, love and greed as events spiral out of control. Less of a cautionary tale and more of a story told from a third petit of view, the film manages to make the unbelievable believable as we see the effect Daniel has in the every day lives of Hunter, McKayla and Abby.
The legendary Strawberries who seemed untouchable suddenly become embroiled in a high stakes drug rink due to Daniel’s over-ambition, where none of them come out unscathed.
Timothée Chalamet does an outstanding portrayal of Daniel as the social awkward teen turned drug dealer. He manages to make you like and dislike him all at once as you see his interactions with Hunter and McKayla Strawberry. Deceiving both to get what he wants.
Maika Monroe gives an effortless portrayal as McKayla as we see her struggle with the anger and hurt for the path her brother has chosen. Wanting to change the course of her life but unable to leave her brother behind she finds love in the one person who sends everything spiraling out of control.
Alex Roe is outstanding as Hunter Strawberry, oozing with charisma and that otherworldly, smooth confidence that makes guys want to be him and girls be with him. Roe steals the screen as we see his “untouchable” persona slowly chip away and reveal his vulnerabilities.
Maia Mitchell rounds out the cast as Amy, bringing some realness to what could have become a film full of cliches. Portraying a police mans daughter she is the one real thing Hunter has that does now have other expectations from him that being himself and opening his heart.
I had the opportunity to speak with Alex Roe, Maika Monroe and Mia Mitchell at the Los Angeles press day a few weeks back where they discussed what attracted them to Hot Summer Nights, working on location and their characters.
Take a look at the interview below.
Hot Summer Nights is in theaters and On Demand July 27.
Photos by Curtis Baker and Guy D’Alema. Courtesy of A24.