I Saw The Light (DVD) – Movie Review
Follow Genre: Biography, Music
Director: Marc Abraham
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Duration: 119 minutes

I Saw The Light (DVD) – Movie Review

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Good: Tom Hiddleston's performance
Bad: A lot of the focus is on Hank's life, rather than on his music
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Hank Williams is one of the most -if not the most- known and loved country singers of the twentieth century. Despite his early death, he had a lot of number one hits and wrote a massive amount of music. Also under his pseudonym ‘Luke the Drifter’ he wrote songs, be it of a different kind than the ones he was so successful with. Either way, he was an incredibly talented musician, whose short life has now been adapted for the big screen by Marc Abraham.

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Hank Williams (Tom Hiddleston) is twenty-one years old when he marries Audrey-Mae Sheppard (Elizabeth Olsen). He is already quite known due to the radio show he hosts, as well as the tours he did with his band ‘The Drifting Cowboys’. The listeners love Hank’s music and singing, but Audrey wants her share of the fame as well, and wants to sing with him on the show. Hank knows, just like his band members, that Audrey’s voice is bad, but because she’s his wife, he allows it in the end. Hank’s mother Lillie (Cherry Jones) is also his manager, but Lillie and Audrey don’t get along at all, putting Hank in an awkward position more than once. Audrey and Hank have a son together, but it doesn’t take long before things start to go downhill. Hank drinks more and more while on tour with his band, and Audrey is forced to look after the baby while she actually wants to be singing with Hank.

Hank’s music starts to have more and more success, landing him a contract with Sterling Records, but the combination of his constant back pain and his alcohol abuse start to take their toll. Nonetheless, in the 1950s he also starts to record under the pseudonym of Luke the Drifter, religious songs that he doesn’t feel fit the musical style people are used to hear from him. At the same time, his career is still going uphill and he has several hits. Unfortunately, his alcoholism keeps getting in the way of his success and his marriage to Audrey.

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The film starts off with the marriage of Hank and Audrey, which means that the director chose not to involve Hank’s first few years as an artist, but instead decided to begin his story when he was already rather known. Nonetheless, there is still enough story to keep things interesting. Even though the film revolves about a musician, the focus is much more on the relationship between Hank and Audrey, and his personal life in general, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though we would have expected it to revolve more around his professional life and his music in particular. Every now and then, there are short parts of interviews with people who knew Hank inserted into the storyline, which give the film a special look. Also, Marc Abraham uses these interruptions to jump a bit in time, to another important phase of Williams’ life.

To be honest, we weren’t really familiar with Hank Williams’ music before watching the film, yet after listening to a few of his songs, we did find that Tom Hiddleston did quite a good job at singing Hank’s songs the way Hank did himself. Fans will obviously notice a difference, yet Tom’s singing is definitely quite enjoyable to listen to.

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Next to his singing abilities, Tom Hiddleston’s acting abilities are also quite good. Even though he is of British nationality, his American accent in this picture is quite convincing. Elizabeth Olsen portrays Audrey quite well, even though sometimes the chemistry between the Tom and Elizabeth seems a bit missing.

There are a few extras on this DVD release that are actually quite enjoyable to watch. First of all there is a ‘behind the scenes’, but next to that, there is also some more information about Hank. The interview with Tom Hiddleston and his musical coach shows how he prepared to sing as true to Hank’s style as possible, topping it off with a few songs sung live in the studio.


I Saw The Light is a film that is definitely worth the watch, whether or not you know much about Hank Williams. As a fan, you might be a bit disappointed that the film focusses a lot on his personal life and not so much on his music, but then again, there is a lot of story to his personal life. Maybe his musical style isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the film is nonetheless a pleasant one to watch.

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