First things first: No, Hilddleston doesn’t sound anything like Hank Williams. To be fair, though, most people don’t. The only person I’ve ever heard get it all right is Hank III, and he probably can’t act. For the most part, Hiddleston does a good job despite the vocal differences. Even though he can’t match the voice, he mostly matches Hank’s singing style and even does a few intros that are almost exactly the same as the ones on the Hank Williams Live at the Grand Old Opry cassette my mom had when I was a kid. If anything, Hiddleston’s main problem is that his singing voice is too traditionally pleasant to consistently capture the emotion of a Hank song. Especially during the scenes where he’s performing in front of an audience, there’s occasionally sort of a cheesy lounge singer vibe, kind of like Val Kilmer’s “Skeet Surfing” video in Top Secret, that kills the suspension of disbelief.
Otherwise, the main problem with I Saw The Light is that it’s a completely paint-by-the-numbers biopic. The only slight variation is that Audrey Williams doesn’t quite fit the usual role of either helpless victim or loyal wife. She’s more of a cold, manipulative bitch. While this doesn’t necessarily go against the impression some people seemed to have of her, she comes across as a bit two-dimensional despite Elizabeth Olsen’s best efforts. In addition to being a formulaic script, none of the individual storylines is dealt with in much depth. For example, Hank’s reaction to being fired from the Opry is one brief scene of Hiddleston sitting on his front steps looking sad. The overall effect is a film that feels less like a biopic than a long montage occasionally intercut with musical numbers.
I Saw The Light isn’t a bad movie, it’s just kind of a let-down given the leads and the subject matter. If you know much about Williams’ life at all, you’re probably not going to learn anything new. Even if you don’t, I doubt there’s anything here that isn’t in his Wikipedia entry, and to be honest the Wikipedia entry is probably more detailed. Unless you just can’t wait to see Loki covering Hank Williams songs, you can wait for cable or Netflix on this one.
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