I SAW THE LIGHT
FILM REVIEW - I SAW THE LIGHT
Running Length: 123 minutes
Directed by: Marc Abraham
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Cherry Jones, Bradley Whitford
Written by: Marc Abraham
Cinematography: Dante Spinotti
Release Date: 6th May 2016
Boring, predictable and drawn-out
How many times must we sit through the same story? Struggling musician achieves recognition and success. Successful musician becomes addicted to pills and booze. Addict falls from grace, alienates loved ones and begins slow decline. Wash, rinse, repeat.
I Saw the Light retells the last nine years in the life of Hank Williams (Tom Hiddleston). With a well-worn plot and glaringly predictable narrative beats, the only way of distinguishing it from Walk the Line, The Doors, Control or countless other musical biopics is by the songs. And it’s hard to recall the last time clichés were expressed with such little flair or panache.
Writer/director Marc Abraham aims for a bland simplicity, and certainly achieves it. But he can’t even stick to the strength of his own naive convictions, so keynote plot points are explained to the audience in cutaway interviews with Williams’ publisher, Fred Rose (Bradley Whitford). In a story this straightforward, it is the equivalent of providing explanatory footnotes on a children’s pop-up book.
Elizabeth Olsen is compelling in a supporting role as Williams’ complex first wife, Audrey. But Hiddleston is a bore. Without any style or substance to maintain interest, the only course of action left open to the viewer is to wait patiently for Williams to expire.
The title and corresponding song invites an unfavourable comparison with the superlative Good Vibrations, but the gulf between Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn’s spectacularly creative ode to Terri Hooley and this bland, generic biopic is vast.
Boring, predictable and drawn out, there is little to recommend in I Saw the Light.