I picked up a DVD of I Saw The Light a couple of weeks ago. It is about the rise to fame of country singer Hank Williams, who was an inspiration for Bob Dylan, probably my favourite artiste. The movie, which runs for just two hours, starts with the marriage of Williams to Audrey Sheppard. It was released to negative reviews, perhaps unfairly so.
Hiddleston, more famous for playing Loki in the superhero film Thor, plays Williams. I remember watching I Walk The Line based on the life of Johnny Cash and Ray based on Ray Charles. This doesn’t come close to either movie, but cannot be dismissed either.
Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Sheppard, put in great performances and the movie is caught up with the women in Williams’ life. His music, sometimes, takes a back seat. Hiddleston, however, sang all the songs himself. The title of the film is from a famous gospel song by Williams.
The film makes no mention of Hank’s father or the street musician he learned the trade from — Rufus Payne. This seems inexplicable, especially since Payne is the only one credited as his teacher by Williams.
Hank Williams has an appeal that has cut across generations and an easy yet insightful writing style. This has not been captured by the pic, despite the talented Hiddleston’s scorching performance.
Directed by Marc Abraham, the film doesn’t get anywhere close to get near the Hank Williams legend or what makes the singer tick. A number of scenes show him drinking, which is later revealed to be because of a condition known as spina bifina occulta, which means that the songwriter-singer’s vertebra were not closed. He was born with the condition.
Sheppard is shown as not caring for him when he falls ill, leading to their divorce during which husband and wife trade absurd charges against each other.
Williams began recording at 23 and died of heart damage at 29, while being driven to a performance. He has sold 11 million albums.