The key to making a good biopic about a troubled icon is to show why they were so troubled. “I Saw the Light” doesn’t follow this one rule whatsoever.
We follow Tom Hiddleston as the legendary country music star, Hank Williams. It’s an exploration through his short-lived success, two marriages, and A LOT of booze and painkillers. We see glimpses of Williams’s insecurities, back pain, and semi-manic behavior without any idea of what to make of it.
“I Saw the Light” was originally scheduled for release for Oscar season last December, but was delayed due to a booked release schedule. This would have been 2015’s one Oscar-bait movie that missed all its marks.
Hiddleston is semi-entertaining as the drunk and easily amused Williams, showing off solid singing skills (he did all of his own vocal work in this movie). Elizabeth Olsen plays Hank’s wife Audrey, who’s often critical of Hank’s lifestyle and constantly threatens Hank with divorce. Her performance is fine, but I wish the writing for her character was more than redundant nagging. We don’t get to know anyone else but them, by the way.
Writer/Director Marc Abraham gets caught up in Williams’s debauchery and abusive behavior (he nearly shoots Audrey in one scene), but there isn’t a flashback, line of dialogue, or any indication of what made him such a terrible person. It feels like Abraham read the Hank Williams biography, highlighted his favorite moments, and decided to just film those without context.
After seeing “Batman v. Superman” last week, I wondered if movies could get more disjointed. Abraham beat Snyder in that category with this Cliff Notes mess.