Hot Summer Nights sees the Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird star fall into the drug trade and a fraught summer romance
Things didn’t quite work out for Elio in Call Me by Your Name, so now Timothée Chalamet is selling green instead. Hot Summer Nights follows the story of shy kid Daniel who spends the summer in Cape Cod and finds himself invested in the local drug trade. Following the release of its first trailer, here’s what we know about the film so far.
ELIJAH BYNUM IS DIRECTING
Hot Summer Nights is a writing and directing first for filmmaker Elijah Bynum, a Massachusetts native. He didn’t go to film school, but had two scripts put on Hollywood’s Blacklist – the annual rundown of Hollywood’s top screenplays that have yet to be produced. One of those scripts was Missisippi Mud, the other Hot Summer Nights. Bynum wrote HSN back in 2012.
“I figured I had a better chance of striking oil in my backyard than making a career in entertainment,” he told Go Into The Story. Bynum asserts he never had any intention of directing until the opportunity came up with this film.
IT WAS A DIFFICULT FILM TO GET MADE
Speaking to No Film School, he stated that he never expected to get any further that the Blacklist. “People responded to it very well, but no one wanted to make the film. I think it scared a lot of people off from a commercial standpoint. Like, what box do you put this in?” Bynum said. “It demanded a pretty substantial budget for the kind of movie it was. Being an R-rated film with a teenage cast and having kind of a dark ending.... No one really knew what to do with it.”
Imperative Entertainment, a fledgling production company, met with Bynum and supported the project, which he called a ”dream come true”.
The coming-of-age romantic thriller sees leading man Chalamet play an out-of-towner who reluctantly moves away for the summer to Cape Cod with his aunt, in 1991. “Sending me away for the summer, what a cliché”, he says to his mother at the opening of the trailer. The plot watches Daniel transform from awkward teen to confident dealer, as he impulsively agrees to hide and deal drugs for neighbourhood rebel, Hunter (played by Alex Roe). In the process, Daniel develops an interest for Hunter’s sister, McKayla (played by It Follows’ Maika Monroe); after all, it wouldn’t be a Chalamet film without some romance.
“I wanted to tell a cool story that I had kind of witnessed in college,” Bynum told Consequence of Sound. The original idea blossomed while Bynum was in Amherst, watching a “tragic rise and fall” of a small drug dealing circle and friendship from the outside. The story is transplanted to Cape Cod, with the story arc totally fictional. Things get shadier, a little bloody, and the stakes get higher – plus, there’s a hurricane coming.
Bynum has also talked about Stephen King’s Stand by Me as a huge influence on the film. “I think there’s a way he taps into things that are very visceral and emotional and also just very American. I think the story, in a way, is this bygone American era that adds the nostalgia without it feeling pastiche necessarily,” he told CoS.
1991 was a funny year, where style and substance had yet to fully come into its own after the blustery 80s. The guys swing by a huge drive-in screenings of Terminator 2: Judgment Day and battle it out on Street Fighter 2 in the local arcade. The soundtrack is expansive, refusing to lean into an era that was still a bit unsure of itself: featuring David Bowie, Can, The Zombies, and more tunes. Visually, it’s very atmospheric and edgy – tensions rise as romance and crime get hotter and the impending hurricane gets closer.
The rising star, who obv has also appeared in CMBYN, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird and Scott Cooper’s Hostiles in 2017, was wanted for the leading role from the very beginning by producer Ryan Friedkin. Born and raised in New York City, Chalamet is the third youngest Oscar Best Actor nominee in history. Hot Summer Nights has quite an impressive, fast-paced character arc for Daniel, from a teen boy awkwardly growing into himself to a drug runner. Watch him sell some dime bags and seriously scale up the biz in the trailer above.
Monroe plays McKayla, an enigmatic local girl, Daniel’s summer love, and unfortunately his new mate’s little sister. She’s known best for her role in smart, sexy horror film It Follows (2014) – along with that and 2014’s The Guest, the 24-year-old been hailed as a new generation’s scream queen. Monroe had a part in Independence Day: Resurgence, The Tribes of Palos Verdes and a slew of upcoming films like drama thriller The Widow (alongside Chloe Grace Moretz and Isabelle Huppert) and Villains with Bill Skarsgård.
THE RESPONSE SO FAR
Though it won’t hit international cinemas until June and July this year, it first premiered at South By South West festival last year, to rapturous responses. It has been described as engaging, rapidly paced, and sensitive in its complex coming-of-age storytelling. There’s been comparison to an early Paul Thomas Anderson, a pretty big compliment.
Hot Summer Nights will be available on DirecTV on June 28, followed by an US theatrical release on July 27. Watch the trailer above.