I Saw The Light Review

The Plot

Tom Hiddleston stars in this biopic of country-western singer Hank Williams, chronicling his rise to fame and its tragic effect on his health and personal life.


The Good

Opening with a documentary style talking head from Bradley Whitfords Fred Rose, co-writer and producer to the films main subject about whom he is waxing lyrical, I Saw The Light quickly moves on to a lone Tom Hiddleston, bathed in a spotlight performing a cappella. The aim of the scene is clear. Tom Hiddleston will be singing in this film, here is what he sounds like. Any doubts of Hiddleston’s musical talent are swiftly destroyed with this incredibly powerful and moving performance. And all this before we’ve even been formally introduced to the man!

The biggest praise for Marc Abraham’s biopic of country legend Hank Williams must go to Hiddleston. Completely and utterly owning the part and doing so with an incredibly compelling voice, Hiddleston is a joy to watch on screen and gives his very best performance. During the decade or so of Hank’s life that we’re taken through, performances are blissfully peppered throughout.

The Bad

Though Hiddleston’s opening scene does achieve it’s aim of taking the question of his performance away almost instantly, the story that follows it feels lost. As we are taken through Hank’s increasingly strained relationship with his wife Audrey (played by a somewhat forgettable Elizabeth Olsen)  and his emaciating health battles, a lack of emotion in it’s storytelling is abundantly clear. In every scene it feels like the camera has just missed out on the inciting incident and is instead following the, frankly dull, aftermath.

The supporting cast, including the aforementioned Olsen and Whitford as well as Maddie Hasson as one of Hank’s young mistresses and 24 alumni Cherry Jones as his mother Lillie all feel disappointingly underused and ultimately inferior to Hiddleston. Looking at their back catalogue it’s clear to see it’s not the actors themselves who are the problem, but rather the absence of any interesting plot lines for their characters.

The Ugly Truth

Ultimately I Saw The Light becomes a wasted opportunity. A musical biopic that tries to go down the traditional route much akin to Walk The Line or Ray in some respects, but opens too late in Hank Williams’ life to truly give any emotional depth to the character. The only light to see in the film is that of Tom Hiddleston’s dazzling  acting and vocal performances transcend the empty story.

Review by Johnny Ellis

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