I Saw the Light
Starring Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Bradley Whitford, Cherry Jones
What happens when two of the Marvel Avengers get together for a ride through County Music Hall of Fame…. Not much. I Saw the Light is a passion project for Hiddleston who is best known as Thor’s villainous brother Loki. The 34-year-old British actor debuts an impressive voice as the 1950’s country music bad boy. The film as a whole drags-down what Hiddleston strives so passionately for. Not only is the script for I Saw the Light poorly constructed, but the oversaturation of extremely similar musical biopics in the last month is cause for concern. Hiddleston’s impressive voice and charisma only lasts for part of the film, the remaining is bogged down by plot clichés, stereotypes and a banal cinematic presentation.
Hank Williams (Hiddleston) career was already on the rise when he married Audrey (Olsen) in the backroom of a service station in Alabama at age 21. For years’ prior the twangy country singer toured the deep south with his mother Lillie (Jones) booking him different gigs. Now his mother watches with a hateful eye as his new bride tries to steal the spotlight with a voice that makes most men plug their ears. Williams dream has always been to play The Grand Ole Opry, and in 1949 he gets that chance when his hit “Lovesick Blues” tops the charts. Following the birth of his son, Opry appearance, Williams begins to unravel with the drugs, alcohol and cheating. It’s not just his marriage causing him pain, it’s also an increasingly painful spinal issue.
Hiddleston’s performance, which is filled with charming winks, and a charismatic smiles, can’t rise above this tedious script.
Oscar winning musical biopics Ray and Walk the Line continue to stand high above the handfuls we get each year. With a film about the rise and fall of Chet Baker, Miles Davis and now Hank Williams, there seems to be an interest on the filmmaking side to put the drug and alcohol addicted musicians on the screen. However, there isn’t much interest from audiences or critics. All three films making their theatrical debut within weeks of each other, have barely registered with ticket buyers. All smaller budgeted films than Johnny Cash’s explosive and star studded Walk the Line (2005), which was about true love more than music. Best picture nominee Ray (2004) was about more than just the singers battle with drugs, also his stance against racism. I Saw the Light feels insignificant among other things, it doesn’t celebrate Williams, instead just explores his failures.
According to writer/director Marc Abraham, Williams only did one thing of note each year. The script shows us approximately ten screen minutes from each year starting with 1944 and ending with his tragic death in 1952 at age 29. “I’m a professional of making a mess of things,” Williams says to a woman carrying his child as he is in-between marriages with two other women. Hiddleston’s performance, which is filled with charming winks, and a charismatic smiles, can’t rise above this tedious script. Olsen (who plays The Scarlet Witch in The Avengers) continues to perform on screen like an Angelina Jolie impersonator, this time emulating Jolie’s suffering housewife performance from By the Sea.
There is no “light” at the end of this tedious and uneventful musical biopic.