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Sunday, August 28, 2016

I SAW THE LIGHT (2015)

Not the first rodeo for a bio-pic on Country Music legend Hank Williams, but after sinking without a trace it could well be the last. As ‘not bad’ films go, this one somehow manages to be entirely unconvincing (from the first shot), bereft of energy (from the first shot) and lacking interpersonal chemistry (from the first shot). Lord!, sounds as depressing as the lyric from a forlorn Hank Williams song. (Was that his secret? Opposing a catchy tune with poetic warnings of doom & gloom?) Tall & morose, Tom Hiddleston’s Williams gets the exterior elements & hits the notes, but his vocals don’t move across the bar-line. And he comes out of the gate already defeated by a hard-scrabble life, poor health & alcoholism, leaving his character no place to go. Similarly, inexperienced director Marc Abraham fails to get below surface detail to Deep South ‘40s attitude. You keep wondering why these 1970s types drive around in WWII era cars. (Or why, in early scenes, so many draftable guys are in town.) Add on poorly faked home-movie footage & mock docu-interviews (narrative bridges for missing continuity); plus a cast & crew who appear to have noticed things weren’t working out; and you get that weird feeling of a movie soldiering on after they've thrown in the towel.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: With Gary Busey at his best (and thinnest), THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY/’78 smartly runs one of these shows using medium accuracy, hearty role-playing & unapologetic corn as needed.

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