Melissa Pierson
March 29, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Hot Spot

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
130 minutes
performer
Jennifer Connelly, Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, Jack Nance, William Sadler, Charles Martin Smith
director
Dennis Hopper
distributor
Orion Pictures
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Erotic

We gave it a C

The Hot Spot is about all kinds of heat: the Texas temperature, the steamy sex, and how high the emotional mercury can rise when you’re a tough guy in a new town, caught between trouble and the trigger. It’s also supposed to be atmospheric, noirish, and touched with nihilism. But the director, Hollywood bad boy Dennis Hopper, lays it all on so thick that the film verges on self-parody. Crime novels of the ’50s — especially Charles Williams’ 1952 Hell Hath No Fury, on which The Hot Spot is based — just don’t take to this kind of extremist revision. Besides, all the folks here, particularly Madsen and Jennifer Connelly, are too simple and too gorgeous for their element. The other miscalculation: starring Don Johnson, a consummately cool actor who couldn’t make anything on-screen burn if he used a butane lighter.

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