Music bio movies have always been a staple of Hollywood but in recent years they seem to be more frequent than ever. It might have all started with Ray in 2004 and Walk the Line in 2005. Those two films were huge hits and got the studios salivating for more music in their movies. Since then we have been treated to The Runaways, Jimi Hendrix in All Is By My Side, James Brown in Get On Up, Miles Davis in Miles Ahead, N.W.A. in Straight Outta Compton and more. The latest addition is a new film about the short but hugely influential life and career of Hank Williams in I Saw the Light.
Tom Hiddleston plays country western legend Hank Williams who in his brief time on Earth created one of the greatest bodies of work in American music. Williams struggles in Nashville, trying to get to the Grand Ole Opry, battling his own demons and dealing with his complicated and tumultuous relationship with his wife Audrey (Elizabeth Olsen) until his death at age 29.
I Saw the Light is a good film. The story of Williams is a great one yet the screenplay does tend to concentrate more on specific times in his life instead of delivering a thorough timeline. Director Marc Abraham does a solid job but does make some strange choices in editing and in continuity. There were times in the film that I wasn’t sure where I was in Williams life or when it transitioned in time. There are also areas that seemed to be important events in Williams’ life that were literally glanced over in very short bursts. But aside from this there is one huge reason to check out I Saw the Light. Tom Hiddleston. He is just incredible here. Not only did he do all his own guitar playing and singing but he uncannily channeled Williams without really mimicking him. He plays the character as being full of conflict and passion and does so with great authenticity. The music is fantastic, Hiddleston is phenomenal and the supporting cast are all excellent as well, especially Elizabeth Olsen. It is a fractured film, an uneven film and probably would have benefitted from being more thorough, in depth and maybe should have included even more music. But it is most assuredly worth seeking out solely for Hiddleston’s performance. I Saw the Light is bound to become a cornerstone of his filmography. Recommended.