Flick Pick: I Saw the Light

I SAW THE LIGHT, Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams, 2015. ph: Sam Emerson / © Sony Pictures Classics

This weekend, one of the most legendary performers in country music is brought to life in the new Hank Williams biopic, I Saw the Light. Williams, who died of heart failure at the young age of 29, is played by Tom Hiddleston, who believably captures not only the singer-songwriter’s look but his unmistakable sound as well.

Although Williams was extremely successful, his short life was a dark one. He turned to alcohol and prescription drugs to ease the painful back problems he carried throughout his life, and his addictions led to troubles with his wife, Audrey Sheppard (portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen in the film), who played in the band on his popular radio show. I Saw the Light focuses on their relationship, from their first days together, through fights, affairs and their divorce, which happened months before Williams’s death in 1953.

I SAW THE LIGHT, from left: Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams, 2015. ph: Sam Emerson

Critics have remarked that this film, directed by Marc Abraham (Flash of Genius), provides a rather one-dimensional view of the Williams story, missing any real insight into what made him the tortured musician it depicts. And when fans first heard that the British Hiddleston, most famous for playing Loki in the Thor films, had been cast as their beloved star, there was certainly controversy. But it’s safe to say the lead actor, who does all his own singing, alone holds this movie together. Hiddleston’s performances of such Williams classics as “Move It on Over” and “Honky Tonkin’” are the scenes that shine the brightest.

No stranger to musical films, Hiddleston starred opposite Tilda Swinton (and is amazing) in Jim Jarmusch’s wild, fascinating dark drama Only Lovers Left Alive, as the romantic, suicidal vampire Adam, who has gathered hundreds of years’ worth of musical influences and instruments.

Check out a preview of Hiddleston qua Williams in the trailer below, and then see what you think of I Saw the Light, in theaters now.

Photos: Sam Emerson/© Sony Pictures Classics/Everett Collection