R | 2h 3min | Biography, Drama, Music
Review - Matt Mungle
**In theaters March 25th 2016**
Synopsis: The story of the country-western singer Hank Williams, who in his brief life created one of the greatest bodies of work in American music. The film chronicles his rise to fame and its tragic effect on his health and personal life.
Review: Since the first image of Tom Hiddleston as the legendary country singer Hank Williams emerged on the web fans have been anxiously awaiting the release of I SAW THE LIGHT. But the anticipation of seeing the onscreen transformation clouded the fact that this movie has been made time and time again. It needed something drastic to set it apart from the Ray's and Johnny's of the cinematic world.
The story picks up about the time that Hank (Tom Hiddleston) and his new bride Audrey (Elizabeth Olsen) are trying to break in to the country and western music scene. We then follow him through the harsh reality of life on the road, women and whiskey, and the toils of staying on top. It is a tragic, though not uncommon, tale.
Most are more familiar with the music and less with the man. We know him more than anything as Hank Jr.'s dad. So the narrative is intriguing until you notice that the story holds nothing new. We get random snapshots of his life and career but without any sort of continuity or synergy to move us from one image to another. It ends up a disjointed mess.
Hiddleston is as amazing as we anticipated. He completely embodies Williams from the subtle body moves to the voice inflection, and slim cowboy gate. He delivers the first award worthy performance by a male this year. Olsen too is very solid and demanding of our attention. Even if you despise her character you can't help but applaud the performance. Neither of these two are to blame for the downfall of the flick. That is completely the fault of director/writer Marc Abraham and his team of editors.
The main problem is the lack of development between each act. As mentioned we see these events that molded his career but never are we allowed to become emotionally involved. Therefore the drama loses all of its momentum and power. Without that force the audience quickly disengages. Once that happens there isn't a performance in the world that can draw them back.
Secondarily is the conflict of writing. The film goes to great lengths to endear us to ol' Hank. The audience gets the smile, the wink, and the humble demeanor. But everyone around him speaks with venomous accusations. Audrey has the most forked tongue. If we believe her then the rest of what we see is a lie. So now we add confusion the list of issues.
The life of Hank Williams was tragic and his life was cut way short. It is a shame that the movie did not pay deserved tribute. I SAW THE LIGHT is rated R for some language and brief sexuality/nudity. Hopefully fans of the legend will still give it a shot. Hiddleston's performance needs to be seen but it is hard to recommend it here. I give it 2.75 out of 5 fender amps. Certainly not the feedback we wanted.