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tiff-40-blueI SAW THE LIGHT

Written and Directed by Marc Abraham / Starring Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen

Hank Williams: Man sings a sad song, he knows it’s sad.

Admittedly, before going into Marc Abraham’s Hank Williams biopic, I SAW THE LIGHT, I knew very little about the country music legend. Unfortunately, having now seen the film, I don’t feel that I know him any better. I do know that Tom Hiddleston is one hell of an actor though.

This is only Abraham’s second film and his lack of experience behind the camera is felt throughout the film. I commend him for taking a different approach to a genre that often feels predictable but he abandoned too much of the established conventions in the end. In case you’re like me and don’t know jack about Hank, his flame burned brightly and quickly.He came into success around the age of 23 and died at the age of 29 after running his body ragged with booze and drugs and selling 11 million albums at the same time. To a large extent, we know this story already and have seen variations in other musical biopics (WALK THE LINE, RAY) and Abraham attempts to turn this familiarity on its head by telling Williams’ story without any clear arc. The result is a lot of meandering and I personally found it very difficult to grasp on to anything happening in Williams’ life. We know he’s a womanizing alcoholic who has a rocky marriage but who also has a talent that cannot be denied but reducing Williams to this tired trope is exactly what Abraham was trying to avoid.


Hiddleston is what makes I SAW THE LIGHT worth watching. (Counterpart and fellow Marvel alum, Elizabeth Olsen, whom I love ordinarily, feels miscast as his meddling wife.) Hiddleston’s charisma is magnetic, even if he is doing nothing but just standing there. Every inch of him embodies that confidence that he is nailing this part and the knowing cockiness Williams exuded that told people he was worth it. In the end, I did learn that Williams was a man who helped people escape their problems through his music when he couldn’t escape his own but there is no escape for this film’s problems.

3 sheep

I SAW THE LIGHT screened at TIFF15 as part of the Special Presentions program.

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give I Saw the Light?


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