IFFBoston ’18 Review: ‘Hot Summer Nights’

High school summer breaks are a lot like Lana del Rey albums: romantic and bittersweet when you wistfully look back on them, but tedious when you’re in the middle of one.

With a title that recalls lyrics from del Rey’s Great Gatsby ballad “Young and Beautiful,” Hot Summer Nights is interested in the former interpretation, offering a rearview mirror perspective on a life-changing summer of 1991 full of sex, drugs, crime and betrayal. Although its an undeniably bold and stylish debut from writer-director Elijah Bynum, Hot Summer Nights, like Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and everything Lana del Rey has ever written, struggles to break through the confusion of its own excess. It’s a fun vehicle for strong performances by Timothée Chalamet and Maika Monroe, but what, exactly, is it trying to say?

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Timothée Chalamet in “Hot Summer Nights” © A24

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