Classic Movie Reviews

Classic Review: I Saw the Light (2016)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “I Saw the Light” which originally appeared here.

Country western singer Hank Williams (Tom Hiddleston), who in his brief life created one of the greatest bodies of work in American music. The film chronicles his meteoric rise to fame and it’s ultimately tragic effect on his health and personal life.

Ever since I’ve seen him as Loki in the MCU films (you know which ones), I’ve been a fan of Tom Hiddleston. I personally haven’t seen him in too many non-Loki roles (with Crimson Peak being the only one I’ve seen) so I was looking forward to this one. I will also say that I’m not a country music fan or a Hank Williams fan (it’s not that I’m not a fan of Williams, I just didn’t know much about him) but I was still giving this one a chance.

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The film is, of course, about country singer Hank Williams (Hiddleston), chronicling his life and his rapid rise and fall as well as his relationship with his wife Audrey (Elizabeth Olsen). There obviously was more going on over the course of this but the overall plot wasn’t overly original. It starts with a man wanting to make it in the country music business, he becomes famous, and he soon gets enveloped in that fame which later ruins his family. This more or less was the plot here but what kind of made it interesting was Hiddleston.

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The first thing I tried to figure out here was whether or not he actually sung here and he did and he wasn’t bad at it either. I’ve never listened to any Hank Williams music so I can’t speak to its authenticity but I enjoyed the musical performances here. They were great and all but what I didn’t like about the film was that they were too short and there wasn’t too many of them.

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What I found weird about this film was that since it was about a famous country singer, Hank Williams, that it would be about that singer and his music. But unfortunately, this film tended to focus more on his personal life including his relationship with Audrey than his own music career. It unfortunately also does not go into either with too much detail. The events we got to witness did not carry too much of an impact with me as the plot just felt all over the place and full of gaps. I found this very frustrating at times because it seemed like the film raised more questions than answers. This did not help the pacing as a film that was already slow to begin with just felt even slower. Because of this, I did find myself getting bored at times.

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What I also didn’t like about the film was that part of it were told through a series of interview clips featuring record producer Fred Rose (Bradley Whitford) who also briefly appeared in scenes featuring Williams’ initial rise to fame. I just found this choice didn’t work for me as it didn’t fit within the grand scheme of the plot and was confusing me as to what the film was really about. Because of the gaps in the plot, I found the film a little hard to follow as scenes did not feel as connected as they should since it seemed like they were connected by events occurring offscreen.

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The best part of the film is obviously Hiddleston (he was probably the only reason why you saw this in the first place). Everyone knows that he is British so having to play a southern, country singer is not an easy role but I was impressed. His accent was great here. I’ve already mentioned the singing which he was great at so the fact that he did both very well was great. Again, I can’t really compare him to Williams but I found him to be very charming and charismatic (but how can he not be since he’s Tom Hiddleston?). Olsen was okay here as Audrey, also getting the accent right but her role came off as a little cliche to me and I didn’t like the chemistry she had with Hiddleston. They’re not unwatchable but they could have been better but I partially blame the script for this.

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Overall, this was a decent biopic with some good musical performances and a great performance by Hiddleston but the plot was a little too messy for me.

Score: 6.5/10

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