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With: Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Bradley Whitford, Cherry Jones, Maddie Hasson, Wrenn Schmidt, David Krumholtz, Josh Pais
Written by: Marc Abraham, based on a book by Colin Escott, George Merritt, William MacEwen
Directed by: Marc Abraham
MPAA Rating: R for some language and brief sexuality/nudity
Running Time: 123
Date: 03/25/2016

I Saw the Light (2016)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Ramblin' Man

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This biopic about country legend Hank Williams is pretty much the same as any other biopic made in the last 20 years, with a strong central performance, a surface-level story, and a series of cliches. A viewer's appreciation of I Saw the Light will depend on how much the great music overrides the lengthy, yet shallow depictions of alcohol abuse, arguing over money, arguing over creative control, extramarital activities, life on the road, divorce, new love, and hospital stays/doctor visits.

In the 1940s, singer-songwriter Hank Williams (Tom Hiddleston) dreams of performing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. He has the talent and the drive, but he has several problems. He's married, to Audrey (Elizabeth Olsen), and she wants to sing, too, but doesn't have the talent. She does want to control Hank's career, however, as does his mother (Cherry Jones). In addition, Hank drinks too much, deals with chronic back pain, and can't help sleeping around with other women. Plus, Audrey has just had a baby. Hank finally gets his chance, but it leads to a whole new set of pitfalls, success, touring, and exhaustion. When he meets Billie Jean (Maddie Hasson), he feels like he has a new lease on life, but how long can it last?

English actor Hiddleston, affecting an Alabama accent and singing all the songs, is quite extraordinary, capturing the soul of the legend. Elizabeth Olsen has some strong scenes as Hank's first wife, but overall, even though Williams only lived to age 29, the movie covers too much material and generally skims the surface. However, the performances are electric and more or less worth the price of admission.

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