I Saw the Light Poster

I Saw the Light (2015)

Biography | Music 
Rayting:   5.7/10 6418 votes
Country: USA
Language: English

The story of the country western singer Hank Williams, who in his brief life created one of the greatest bodies of work in American music. The film chronicles his rise to fame and its tragic effect on his health and personal life.

Movie Trailer

User Reviews

trez1 26 March 2016

It's a shame that some of this film's structural flaws will keep many from seeing one of the best on screen performances I've seen in years. Hiddleston's Hank Williams is a masterful creation: haunting, driven and soulful with the added bonus of Hiddleston doing his own singing and playing (no lip-syncing) including Hank's famous yodel.

While the film would have benefited with less marital squabbling and more music, it nonetheless takes one on an gripping journey of an American music icon's tragic life and short but amazing career.

Elizabeth Olson as Audrey, William's headstrong wife, does a fine job but I could have done with less of their relationship story and more about Hank's musical process. Cherry Jones is also excellent as Hank's bossy mom.

The stellar singing in the opening segment is worth the price of admission.

jdesando 25 March 2016

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" or "Your Cheatin' Heart" might have been better titles for the Hank Williams biopic, "I Saw the Light." The story written and directed by Marc Abraham has too much emphasis on his lonely, cheating persona that led to divorce and broken hearts along the arc of this film's 1944 to 1953, when he died of too much drugs and alcohol. After seeing Amy, about Amy Winehouse, I'm waiting currently for a softer biography, say of Perry Como.

Anyway, Tom Hiddleston's turn as Williams is hypnotically spot on from tics and Southern drawl to hats and all the charm in between. Hiddleston is a good singer who seems to have captured Williams in a masterful interpretation of a manic depressive genius. That's my major concern with the story: I want more of the music, its creation and its challenges, and much less of the personal and domestic warfare, led by his wife, Audrey (Elizabeth Olsen).

Olsen's Southern accent is impressively accurate without being too twangy although her singing is not up to Huddleston's level of smoothness. Audrey was apparently a strong woman who interjected herself into the studio as well as the home. Although she isn't as memorable as June Carter Cash, she is a force in Williams' life. At a point I was sympathetic to her and her children, who were small players in Williams' life.

I guess if you really want to know Hank Williams, listen to his songs. If you want to see what Loki can do outside of science fiction, see him play Hank Williams in I Saw the Light.

mizzouram 1 April 2016

I'm only 25 years old, but I have almost all of Hank's music and have read multiple books in high school about him (including "Hank Williams: The Biography" by Colin Escott). So needless to say, I had high hopes for this movie.

I feel like my high hopes were mostly met. I thought the movie did a very good job of laying out Hank's life and showing his stardom as well as struggles. I didn't like as much that it was rated R vs a PG-13 for "Walk the Line", but then again, anyone who has studied Hank knows that his life was rough and he wasn't candy-coated by any means.

I think Tom Hiddleston does a very good job as Hank, though maybe not QUITE as spot on as I would've liked. But when a big movie comes out about probably my biggest musical artist of all-time, I won't complain. From what I've read, Mr. Hiddleston was basically trained to be as spot-on as possible, and when I saw the movie, he had me believing it was Hank. Elizabeth Olsen did a very good job as Audrey as well.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the movie and am anticipating any special edition releases when it comes out on DVD in a few months. Of course, there were moments of sadness especially toward the end, but there were also moments of happiness and (at least for me) a few chuckles. Although I wouldn't rank this as high as "Walk the Line" in my list of biopics, it was definitely worth the price of admission to me and I would totally see it again if given the opportunity.

SnoopyStyle 11 August 2016

Hank Williams (Tom Hiddleston) marries recently divorced single mom Audrey (Elizabeth Olsen) in 1944 in an Alabama gas station. He's a hard drinking country singer with some small success. She starts singing with him despite objections from the band and his mother (Cherry Jones). Audrey's constant calling gets Fred Rose (Bradley Whitford) to sign them. They stop Audrey's singing as Hank strives to perform in the Opry. His constant back pains leading to alcohol and pain killer use is finally diagnosed as chronic spina bifida occulta. After his divorce from Audrey, he has a brief affair with Bobbi Jett resulting in a daughter. He meets teenager Billie Jean Jones (Maddie Hasson) and later marries her. He would die on January 1, 1953.

There is nothing substantive here. One would be better off to listen to Hank Williams music while watching a documentary about his life. It's very thin and I'm not talking about Hiddleston's physicality. One rarely gets a sense of the man or his marriage. There is no tension. There is no sense of his life or his work. His struggle with his back and alcohol is the obvious path but the movie doesn't elevate his pain. This is a waste of perfectly good talents. I laid all the blame on Marc Abraham who is more a producer than a writer or director.

ferguson-6 31 March 2016

Greetings again from the darkness. Most Hollywood musical biopics follow a similar and predictable structure, which is why Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story was so easily able to parody the genre. Of course, the legendary singer/songwriter Hank Williams deserves more than predictable storytelling … but unfortunately, that's exactly what he gets here.

Tom Hiddleston delivers a spot on physical impersonation of Hank – right down to the slightly hunched over (due to Spina Bifida Occulta) posture and bouncy onstage waggle. Yes, the very British Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki in The Avengers and Thor movies, has managed to capture the presence of one of the all-time great Country and Western icons. Mr. Hiddleston worked on the beloved songs with Rodney Crowell and delivers some very nice singing - so nice in fact that the singing is distracting and misleading. Hank Williams sang his songs in angst … a tortured soul seemingly without choice in his need to share his art. No one could be expected to perform with that emotion, and the void is obvious.

As source material, director Marc Abraham (Flash of Genius, 2008) utilizes "Hank Williams: The Biography" co-written by George Merritt, Colin Escott, and William MacEwen. It may be the least creative title possible for a biography, and the movie correlates perfectly. We track Hank's early days as a struggling singer whose dream is to someday perform on the hallowed stage of The Grand Ole Opry, to his gas station marriage to Audrey May (Elizabeth Olsen), through his alcoholism, drug use, womanizing, superstardom, fall from grace, and ultimately tragic death at the age of 29.

Despite the nature of Williams' short life, the film only skims the surface and rarely digs too deeply. The steady stream of women/wives is difficult to track … perhaps that's the point. Audrey is the only one who gets much screen time and Ms. Olsen plays her as an ambitious shrew who comes across as impossible to like and as unwilling to work at the relationship. A staggering number of Hank Williams songs are embedded as merely interludes separating scenes of misery for all involved … especially Hank, who seems to find little joy in life.

We've all seen the destruction that fame often leads to, and when combined with Hank's painful back disorder and relentless alcoholism, it's little wonder his body simply surrendered at such an early age. The movie just seems a bit too high-gloss for such a tortured soul, and despite the best efforts of Tom Hiddleston, the film is not worthy of someone who left the musical legacy of Hank Williams.

jen-lynx 3 April 2016

The best part about going into a film with low expectations is being pleasantly surprised. "I Saw the Light" is Marc Abraham's biopic about country music legend, Hank Williams, starring Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen as Williams' first wife, Audrey. I am no fan of country music, but I'll be honest, I am a big fan of Tom Hiddleston.

Despite living a very short life (Williams died when he was only 29), Williams managed to write and release dozens of hit singles and leave an everlasting mark on the history of music. "I Saw the Light" attempts to capture this short, but brightly burning star, in his entirety and in doing so, manages to miss on most everything. There is no denying that both Hiddleston and Olsen give remarkably nuanced performances and Hiddleston's transformation from English gentleman to smalltown Southern boy is nothing short of brilliant, but sadly not even their acting can make up for a poorly conceived and executed story. The story, while apparently linear, jumps from place to place, with little explanation, thus leaving the audience to try and fill in the missing pieces, which is an impossible task for those who do not know Hank Williams' life.

"I Saw the Light" is a flawed film from the structure, to the script, with some truly cringe worthy lines, to some terrible use of hand held cameras, yet I still enjoyed myself. Knowing that it was not a great film, I was able to just focus on what were Oscar worthy performances by both Hiddleston and Olsen. I left with little understanding of Hank Williams, but perhaps a better appreciation of his music. It was a fine way to spend a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. If you like Olsen or Hiddleston, it is worth seeing, otherwise wait for streaming or other media.

lindabroday 6 April 2016

I'm not a movie critic, just an ordinary person who loves sitting in a dark theater and letting the magic take over. I Saw The Light was pure magic. Tom Huddleston, whom I'd never heard of before, was perfect for the role of Hank Williams. He took me back in time and let me see the pain and suffering the icon faced daily. Hank's was a tortured soul and maybe that contributed to his greatness. Huddleston captured that and pulled back the curtain, letting us see inside the man. I think Huddleston did an excellent job with not only the songs (his voice was flawless) but with the exact mannerisms and nuances of Hank Williams. I thank him for doing such an awesome job and for a short time whisked me back so I could once again enjoy the icon's music. It was difficult to keep my feet still because I wanted to get up and dance. This was a great movie and I hope to see Tom Huddleston in other roles.

vthomas-02523 17 February 2016

I saw the movie last fall, just a few weeks prior to the original release date. I was happy with the choice of Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams. He had the physical look to carry it off and I know he has the talent. I just wish I could say the same with the script.

This story seems to focus on his first marriage and that relationship. Out of everything Hank Williams did, this is what they focus on? Other than the music, they barely touched on everything that made him such a colorful character. It didn't help that there was little chemistry between two lead characters. Lifetime movies have better stories and chemistry.

Tom Hiddleston did a nice job with his singing but that isn't worth watching this movie. Hopefully, this will get buried and someone with more knowledge of Hank Williams can bring more deserving movie to the screen.

cosmo_tiger 5 July 2016

"A man sings a sad song he knows is sad." Hank Williams (Hiddleston) is a country music legend. He has sung and written some of the best song in this and any genre. He also had some demons that destroyed him. Pain and hurt that he felt and caused led to his classic body of work, and ultimately his untimely death. This is a very hard movie to review. After the huge success of Ray and Walk The Line it is a tall order to live up to those two. I wondered why this didn't get a big release, especially considering the Avengers connection. After watching this I can see why. The acting is great. Hiddleston embodies Hank and even does his own singing. Olsen does a spot on job as Audrey and portraying the struggles she went through. The music and performances are a treat to watch. All that said, the movie itself came off as flat and a little uninspired. It was missing something that the other two had and it ultimately ended up hurting the movie and making this a huge disappointment, for me at least. Overall, great acting could not overcome the bad writing. Worth seeing, but temper your expectations. I sadly give this a B-.

peemmza 7 April 2016

I've got to hand it to director Mark Abraham. All the things he got right in "I Saw The Light" were far more impactful than things he missed. After reading other reviews I thought I was going to come away from the movie unsatisfied, but instead it was the opposite.

I really like that this movie was a more subdued and intimate look at Hank Williams. It's not fast paced or a high frequency drama. It's an intimate peak into the personal side of Hank during the last 5-6 years of his life with singing performances speckled throughout. The acting performances are fantastic especially Tom Hiddleston who transforms himself into Hank beautifully and does a fine job singing Hank's songs.

Many of the complaints of the film were from people who wanted to see the historical Hank Williams film. The whole boilerplate biopic from childhood to all the milestones of his rise to stardom and the impact he had on American music. People wanted to know why Hank was the way he was and did the things he did. Yet conflicted, talented artists tend to always defy being wrapped up into nice, little 120 minute boxes with definitive explanations supplied.

With that in mind Abraham did the next best thing and what was always his intention, created and showed a personal experience of Hank. To have the audience feel what it was like to be in his life. In that endeavor the director got it right many times over. By casting Hiddleston to play such a complex and conflicted person, it humanizes Hank and makes him relatable. Tom's performance allows people to have an endearing empathy and compassion for Hank and see this troubled cultural hero from a personal perspective.

Although there's a lot the director left out or only made reference to, the main problem with the film is in the weaving of all the many relationships and chapters of Hank's tumultuous life into a cohesive harmony. Still "I Saw The Light" delivers an insightful and engaging experience of the great country star that we have never seen before and with a masterly produced soundtrack that sets the tone and carries you through this little beauty of a film.

t-w-anderson 26 May 2019

Keep your eyes open at all times and cross your legs. This is a very visually pleasing film. For more, I recommend Oldboy.

eddie_baggins 6 December 2016

Frustrating. That is how I would describe this unfocused and sadly unengaging biopic of legendary country singer Hank Williams, the man responsible for such memorable ditties as What You Got Cooking and Cold Cold Heart.

At one time or another spoken about as being a likely contender at the Academy Awards, Marc Abraham's film that features an outstanding and deservedly acknowledged performance from British superstar Tom Hiddleston, I Saw the Light became a true non-event upon release around the world, making a paltry $1.6 million at the worldwide box office and a fate even worse here in Australia where it has been dumped straight onto home release without even the slightest bit of fanfare around, which is such a shame considering the material and tools at Abraham's disposal.

William's story from that centres on an incredible rise to fame from a relatively sad upbringing is completely mishandled by Abraham with the film rarely, if ever, offering up much lead in or background to Williams bar an impressive meltdown at a music festival where Williams addresses the crowd under extreme duress. It's nigh on infuriating that we're never really allowed inside this talented performers mindset or history and makes the film feel as though it's at arm's length away at all times.

This feeling of disconnect can be laid almost entirely to blame on Abraham as Hiddleston who has still perhaps been at his best as Loki in The Avengers before this film rather than the over praised Only Lovers Left Alive, The Deep Blue Sea and the overrated BBC series The Night Manager makes this role his own from the word go.

As the camera slowly lingers in towards Hiddleston performing an impressive instrument free rendition (Hiddleston performs all his own songs here as well as playing the guitar) of hit William's song Cold Cold Heart to an intently concentrating audience, you forget that you're watching the British actor and feel as though you're instead witnessing the complete re-embodying of Williams. It's a turn that deserves a much better movie even if he gets solid support from Elizabeth Olsen as William's long suffering love Audrey.

I Saw the Light is a real missed opportunity to not only tell the story of Williams but give Hiddleston the film his performance deserved and while the die-hard fans of Williams may find this film better than us Williams outsiders, it would be very hard to find many other reasons to watch this soulless film other than to see Hiddleston deliver the acting turn of his career so far.

2 electric garage door buttons out of 5

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