Title – I Saw the Light (2015)
Director – Marc Abraham (Flash of Genius)
Cast – Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Bradley Whitford
Plot – A biopic of the legendary country music singer Hank Williams (Hiddleston) and his tumultuous time in the spotlight as well as his rocky marriage to Audrey Williams (Olsen).
“Everyone has a little darkness in them”
Review by Eddie on 07/12/2016
Frustrating. That is how I would describe this unfocussed and sadly unengaging biopic of legendary country singer Hank Williams, the man responsible for such memorable ditties as What You Got Cooking and Cold Cold Heart.
At one time or another spoken about as being a likely contender at the Academy Awards, Marc Abraham’s film that features an outstanding and deservedly acknowledged performance from British superstar Tom Hiddleston, I Saw the Light became a true non-event upon release around the world, making a paltry $1.6 million at the worldwide box office and a fate even worse here in Australia where it has been dumped straight onto home release without even the slightest bit of fanfare around, which is such a shame considering the material and tools at Abraham’s disposal.
William’s story from that centres on an incredible rise to fame from a relatively sad upbringing is completely mishandled by Abraham with the film rarely, if ever, offering up much lead in or background to Williams bar an impressive meltdown at a music festival where Williams addresses the crowd under extreme duress. It’s nigh on infuriating that we’re never really allowed inside this talented performers mindset or history and makes the film feel as though it’s at arm’s length away at all times.
This feeling of disconnect can be laid almost entirely to blame on Abraham as Hiddleston who has still perhaps been at his best as Loki in The Avengers before this film rather than the over praised Only Lovers Left Alive, The Deep Blue Sea and the overrated BBC series The Night Manager makes this role his own from the word go.
As the camera slowly lingers in towards Hiddleston performing an impressive instrument free rendition (Hiddleston performs all his own songs here as well as playing the guitar) of hit William’s song Cold Cold Heart to an intently concentrating audience, you forget that you’re watching the British actor and feel as though you’re instead witnessing the complete re-embodying of Williams. It’s a turn that deserves a much better movie even if he gets solid support from Elizabeth Olsen as William’s long suffering love Audrey.
I Saw the Light is a real missed opportunity to not only tell the story of Williams but give Hiddleston the film his performance deserved and while the diehard fans of Williams may find this film better than us Williams outsiders, it would be very hard to find many other reasons to watch this soulless film other than to see Hiddleston deliver the acting turn of his career so far.
2 electric garage door buttons out of 5