I Saw the Light

Rated 2.0

It’s still a little early yet, but this is positioned to be one of the year’s biggest cinematic disappointments. The film is an ultimate downer because it contains a powerful central performance from Tom Hiddleston as country music legend Hank Williams. Hiddleston looks, and more importantly, sounds the part, performing live with a strong singing voice and stage persona. When the film focuses on live music and studio performances of Williams’ standards, it shines. It’s when the film examines his life between the songs that it’s a dull, unrewarding experience. Yes, anybody who knows a little bit about the man knows he died tragically young (29) of alcohol and drug-related complications, and that he had a messed-up love life. Come on, though, this is Hank Williams. It’s hard to accept his life was as dull and humorless as writer-director Marc Abraham’s film suggests. Yes, his end was tragic, but the guy must’ve had a sense of humor. Elizabeth Olsen does good work as Audrey Mae Sheppard, Williams’ wife when he got his big break. The same can’t be said for Maddie Hasson as Williams’ next wife, Billie Jean Jones. Her character feels tacked on. Abraham relies on some of your basic biopic no-nos to move the story along, including the old fake black-and-white newsreel interview gimmick. That’s when you put an actor in a fake interview setting and make it look like a newsreel to give the film authenticity. It’s just proof that the writer was stuck and needed to cheat his way out of self-induced plot ditches. Songs like “Lovesick Blues,” “Honky Tonkin’” and other Williams classics provide interesting interludes, but I Saw the Light will be remembered more for its dullness than its musical numbers.