‘Heatwave’ Characters And Themes, Explained: Does It Awaken The Fire In Claire?

This is not the first time the idea of a heatwave has been used to frame a story. Hot weather symbolism is utilized to intensify the atmosphere, portray emerging mental disintegration, or indicate the emergence of violence and impending tensions in the neighborhood. In films, a heatwave is represented musically and becomes the central character refusing to take leave. Ernie Barbarash’s directorial debut, “Heatwave,” employs the symbol to unfold the lives of ambitious Claire Valens (Kat Graham), real estate billionaire Scott Crane (Sebastian Roche), Crane’s trophy wife and an entrepreneur who lives on finder’s fees, Eve Crane aka Genevieve (Merritt Patterson), and the vengeful Jacob Smith’s son Lane Baxter Smith (Aren Buchholz). The symbol enflames and ignites the plot.


“Heatwave” gives us a thrilling experience of how businesses work under tycoons. It illustrates how human beings crave power and wealth and become monsters to achieve them. In recurring instances, we are told of love being deadlier than fire: the more love, the more destruction. But most importantly, it is essential to recognize and ignite the fire that exists within us despite the world pointing fingers at us.

Spoilers Ahead


Claire Valens 

15-year-old Claire Valens lost her parents and 17-year-old sister in a fire at the Powell Avenue Projects. Her anger led her to torch the home of her negligent slumlord, Jacob Smith. As a kid, she was scared, terrified, and hyperventilated when in the dark. And since she committed arson, she was sent to the juvenile center and released after three years. Claire was a resident of ‘Second Chances,’ a passion project of Crane’s first wife, Anabelle. Claire started reading Scott Crane at a very young age, perhaps influenced by the foundation that gave her a second chance at life. It helped her build a foundation for success.

She had a rough start, no doubt, but was focused on making her dreams come true. She didn’t want to be defined by how she earned the rent but instead wanted to concentrate on earning the rent. She was easily manipulated but simultaneously ambitious. She had become a go-getter. Thus, making an impression on Scott Crane, she became his assistant at Crane Corporation. She also gets into a homosexual relationship with Eve Crane, not knowing that she is Scott Crane’s second wife. She gets framed for the murder of Scott but manages to escape the cops. Claire is smart and strong and becomes affirmative being able to fight Lane Smith and hand over the love of her life, Eve, to the cops, and finally, deciding to pursue a career in real estate properties with the resources (i.e., $7,217,677.00) she has in hand.


Scott Crane

Scott is a real-estate mogul featured in several magazines like Fortune First, Infinity, Estate, and The World. He boasts of his achievements and his company, Crane Corporation. Scott Crane is known for his talks at the sessions conducted at the Second Chances Foundation. The passion project of his first wife was bankrolled by him; the building was also built by him, and the employees at the foundation were his alumni.

Scott Crane has his secrets. He doesn’t take no for an answer and hates not being in control of the situation. He also gets disappointed by dishonesty. Scott was involved in the death of his first wife, Anabelle. At the same time, he admires Claire and advises her not to let anyone shame her about her past. Scott was the epitome of patriarchy, considering it his prerogative to mansplain. He doesn’t discuss work at home to maintain a healthy and flourishing relationship. He uses Eve as his second wife for party favors, calling her a social butterfly wife. Eve looks suspicious to him, and he doesn’t respect her, calling her ‘property.’ Eve wants to get rid of him as he has not kept his promise to make her an equal business partner. Therefore, she has Scott murdered, and his body is left at Ironside Cannery to be burned.


Eve Crane

Eve White, or Eve Crane, or Genevieve is hiding her real identity. She is introduced to us as a mysterious stranger and an entrepreneur. She is an accomplice to Scott in the murder of Anabelle. She manipulates Claire, unaware, to introduce the idea of purchasing Ironside Cannery to Scott, her boss. Eve manages to deceive Scott and keeps in contact with people selling their properties to Crane Corporation and receiving finder’s fees. Even the condo that she boasts of inheriting from her parents actually belongs to Ms. Jeffreys.

Eve is shrewd enough, but the only mistake she commits is falling for Claire. She spends a lot of time with Claire, listening to her past and comforting her. Her evil side returns when she decides to murder Scott along with Lane Smith and frame Claire in the murder. Eve thinks that she can manipulate Claire all the time and be free and powerful. She fails to realize that once you lose trust, it cannot be regained instantly.


Lane Baxter Smith

Lane is the son of Jacob Smith, who wants to take revenge on Claire. Therefore, he becomes Eve’s accomplice. Lane is secretive and plans to teach Claire a lesson for setting his house on fire. He shows discomfort and is intimidated in the presence of Claire but later apologizes for the same. He discriminates between the privileged and the less fortunate by stating that his father gave Claire’s people cheap buildings. Lane is the one who committed the cold-blooded murder of Scott. While he’s attempting to execute Claire, she escapes and shoots him instead. He meets a tragic end at the hands of Claire.

‘Heatwave’ Themes Explained

The film harbors very dark and intense themes that connect the plot and make it a mysterious murder thriller.


Ambition: Whether it is Claire, Eve, Scott, or Lane, all of them show signs of ambition. However, they pursue their ambitions for different reasons. Claire wants to make it big in the real estate business, idolizing Scott. Scott, on the other hand, is egoistic and doesn’t give a damn about others. His ambition is to own everything. Despite his achievements, he does not want others to participate equally in his success. Eve is ambitious and wants to stash all the money she can get in her bank account through illegal means. And Lane is motivated by his desire for vengeance. “Heatwave” clarifies how, in the heat of a moment, we drastically choose evil when innately, we are built with the passion for good and to attain success.

Violence And Corruption: When we live in a society, we become part of a system that influences and molds us. The rich-poor divide system led Jacob Smith to not care about checking and maintaining the buildings under his care to the desirable code. Thus, when the building caught fire, around ten people were dead, including Claire’s parents and sister. There were no fire alarms to warn about the fire breakout or for anyone to come to their rescue, and no sprinklers to salvage the situation. This incident aggravated Claire so much that she burned the slumlord’s house. In turn, this led Lane to wait to take revenge on Claire. On the other hand, Detective Parker is bribed in Anabelle Crane’s case. And thus, he loses his authentic self and is unable to concentrate on his duty. It is possible that at that time, he needed money to save his wife, who was suffering from bone cancer, but the money couldn’t save her. Both violence and corruption are products of a broken system that desperately needs correction.


Homosexuality: “Heatwave” attempts to represent a half-baked lesbian relationship. Nevertheless, starting a conversation on homosexuality, Claire and Eve are lesbians who not only hook up for sexual intimacy but also discuss their distorted lives. Although Eve isn’t sincere, she is all ears to Claire, who expresses her heart out, sobbing about her past. Her authenticity makes Eve fall in love with her even when she doesn’t plan it. Homosexuality as a theme in the film adds a touch of thrill and vigor to the plot.

“Heatwave” is a film that sets the relationship and business weather on fire.


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Carlos Luis
Carlos Luis
Carlos is a perpetual learner who believes that knowledge is limitless. He enjoys reading non-fiction and is passionate about watching, analyzing, and discussing movies.

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