Every once in a while, I watch a movie and wonder why it was even made in the first place. This is how I felt while watching I Saw the Light. The reason I bought a ticket to this show today (aside from wanting something to write about) was because Tom Hiddleston was in it and because the only other movie that was out that I haven’t seen yet was God’s Not Dead 2…
I’m not familiar with Hank Williams and who he was as a person because country music really is not my type of genre. I decided to look up a couple of his songs before I wrote this review; I did like the sound and lyrics of the song this movie is titled after, but the rest of it was just alright. If you are huge fan of Hank Williams, you’ll have a different motive to come to this movie than I did, but I’m not entirely sure you’ll enjoy this movie much either.
One thing I can say: Tom Hiddleston does look a decent amount like Hank Williams.
It’s going to be very hard for me to talk about this movie without spoiling it somewhat. I may give more details then I usually intend to in reviews. If that bothers you, then just skip to the very bottom of the paragraph for my rating.
To the uninformed, Hank Williams is a country singer from the early 1900’s. He was a talented lyricist, an absent father, a maritally unfaithful husband, an alcoholic, and (in my opinion) a bit of a sociopath.
Does it sound like a movie about this guy’s life would be a fun watch? Because it wasn’t a fun watch for me. There’s a term that I like to use for movies like this: nihilistic. Now nihilistic movies aren’t necessarily horrible, but they are seldom good.
In regards to the acting, I think it was pretty solid all around. However, the movie really doesn’t set itself up in a way that causes you to care about anybody. None of the characters in this film invoked a desire in me to invest in them emotionally. The only two people that they do expand on enough for me to care about were Hank Williams and his wife played by Elizabeth Olsen, and the two are both such shallow, surface-level human beings that whenever something does happen to them that’s bad, I can’t really feel much sympathy for them. They often bring it upon themselves. I did occasionally feel sympathy for the wife, but never Williams himself.
This film is essentially a summary of Hank Williams’ life, the milestones he hits, the songs he writes, and the women sleeps with more than once. If this movie portrayed Williams correctly, then he was a cancer to everyone he touched. Now in regards to movies where the character is a deeply flawed human being, I tend to appreciate them if there is a breaking point in the character that causes him to think differently. But if the movie is two full hours of a man who made a mess of his entire life and then the movie ends, I can only question why this story was even worth telling in the first place.
Is it really worthwhile to document the life of a man who destroyed everything he touched and never once came clean about it? Even if he was a famous icon who wrote good songs, can a film be justified in somewhat glorifying him?
The only value this movie has, aside from one or two good scenes, is that it shows a testament of what happens to your life and the lives of people around you when you give into the vilest parts of yourself. Hank Williams may have touched the lives of people who loved his music, but he destroyed anybody who got closer than that. Ironically, our lead protagonist seems to never see the light.
This movie is pretty well done. The script isn’t filled with crappy dialogue, the narrative holds together, and the performances are all decent. That’s just it though: it’s decent. There isn’t really anything in this movie that justifies the price of admission. Go see this movie if you love Hank Williams. But then again, maybe not because it will probably cause you to realize what a terrible human being he was, and I’m giving this movie a 5 out of 10.