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TIFF Review: I Saw the Light – “A memorable performance by Tom Hiddleston”

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Hank Williams (Tom Hiddleston) is on the cusp of fame and fortune when he weds Audrey Mae (Elizabeth Olsen) with a justice of the peace at a gas station.   Friction soon occurs between the married couple as Audrey is determined to share the singing spotlight with her husband even though she is an inferior talent.  Williams’ persistence and cockiness leads to him making an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry; however, back pain problems, marital unrest, alcoholism, drug abuse and womanizing threaten to undermine his physical well-being and career.

The primary concentration is on the destructive relationship between Hank Williams and Audrey Mae.  Tom Hiddleston (High-Rise) portrays the Alabama musician with a swagger and grin that translates convincingly during the concert scenes; he is less believable as a drunk with loaded gun firing at empty pop bottles.  Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla) plays Audrey as a self-centred leech who is undeserving of empathy which is a credit to her abilities as an actress.

There is no shortage of songs by Hank Williams which adds to the atmosphere.  The trouble is that biopic sketches a portrait of the protagonist rather than paint the cinematic canvas with dynamic brushstrokes.   Interview footage is incorporated to provide context and serve as chapter breaks but it feels like a Band-Aid solution.  I Saw the Light showcases a memorable performance by Tom Hiddleston but the insights into what inspired Williams as songwriter are as empty as one of his drunken beer bottles.

2.5-out-of-5

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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