I Saw the Light

%{[ data-embed-type=”image” data-embed-id=”” data-embed-element=”span” data-embed-size=”640w” contenteditable=”false” ]}%

Some will leave I Saw the Light wanting to hear actual Hank Williams recordings and read a few words about him. Others will be tempted to get up in the middle of this maddening, sloppy biopic and start streaming Williams’ songs in the popcorn line. Do that and you’re likely to skip the rest of the movie and leave the premises entirely to find a dim bar with a jukebox and a decent bourbon list.

Seems like that’s the way Hank woulda done it — though you’d hardly know it watching the diluted Williams in writer-director Marc Abraham’s thin melodrama (based on Hank Williams: The Biography by Colin Escott with George Merritt and William Macewen), much of which glaciers by unaccompanied by so much as a drop-D progression.

Tom Hiddleston is unassailably studied in the role — doing his own fair singing and getting Williams’ suggestive hunch right — but even at his most convincing he’s weighed down by Abraham’s two-dimensional script. Rather than write songs or make records, this Williams mostly quarrels with wife Audrey Mae (Elizabeth Olsen, deserving more) and sits for the occasional passive-aggressive pep talk from his mom (Cherry Jones). Long before death comes calling, Williams and his music recede into blankness — some of which at least looks good through Dante Spinotti’s camera, when Abraham isn’t telling him to wobble it, move it in pointless circles or load it with black-and-white film for absurd docu-fake scenes. What you’re left with is two hours’ worth of “needs citation” footnotes on a long but uninformative Wikipedia page.

Categories: Movies