I SAW THE LIGHT (2015) Hank Williams Sr. Videos Included


By Melissa Antoinette Garza


Hank Williams Sr. is one of the greatest singers of all time.  I love old-school country music.  I have a guitar of Johnny Cash tattooed on my back. Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and the entire Carter family are all staples of Country Music and played quite a bit in my house.  One of the finest memories I have is standing on the stage of the original Grand Ole Opry.

For nearly two decades, I stayed away from Hank Williams Sr.  It wasn’t because I didn’t love the music, but he was my father’s favorite singer, and as I’ve said before, my father was the biggest bastard I ever knew.  Though my father had zero talent in anything he did, it didn’t stop him from bellowing horrible renditions of Hank Williams Sr. out.  Poor Williams must have been rolling in his grave quite a bit at my father’s expense.

That said, I do love Tom Hiddleston.  Typically, I watch a film with Hiddleston as soon as it’s released.  This one I waited on.  I couldn’t watch it when it was in theaters.  I didn’t want to have a crazy PTSD attack so I opted to hold off.

It’s in Redbox now, so I figured, worst case scenario, I’d waste $1.50.


I was certainly a fan of WALK THE LINE and I figured this would be similar in its storytelling manner.  It wasn’t.

One thing my husband noticed that I didn’t, was for those unfamiliar with Williams history, the movie starts very much in the middle.  The viewer is told nothing about his childhood.  His mother is shown to be overbearing and his wife Audrey (Elizabeth Olson) is very strong-willed.  Despite her being a bad singer, she basically forces Williams to include her in his radio performances.

He begins drinking so much that he lands in the hospital with both pain and DTs (shakes and tremors).  He gets clean and is determined not to drink anymore.  He nearly loses Audry, but when she sees that he has gotten sober, she gives him another chance.

When his song, LOVESICK BLUES hits number one, despite most people telling him it’s the wrong song to sing, he gets his chance on the Grand Ole Opry.  Everything is going aces for Williams with his record contract and marriage, but his old demons resurface.

He begins abusing prescription pills and drinking heavier than ever.  He ends up showing up late to performances in horrible conditions where he can barely sing.  Other times, he doesn’t show at all.

The film doesn’t discuss his spina bifida until the third act.  If one doesn’t realize that the back injury he suffers isn’t from the attack at the bar in the first scene, they may not fully grasp the extent of his pain and why it was so easy for him to succumb to alcohol and drug use.  In the last act, we are shown the doctor explaining his condition and then operating on him.

The Hank Williams story is not just about great songs, being drunk, jumping from studio to studio, performance to performance.  I wish they really delved into the emotionality of the character.  That’s not a slight on Hiddleston, who did the best with what he had to work with.

I know the director wanted the focus to be on Williams relationship with Audrey and the anger between the two of them.  The issue is that it’s hard to sympathize with Audrey when we are only told about Williams screwing around, but shown Audrey spending all the money and running around on him.  Not to mention when Williams is laid up from his operation, Audrey comes home after being out all night presumably at someone’s house.  It’s easy to see that Williams married a woman like his mother, but it’s hard to see the attraction between Williams and Audrey.  I don’t know how close to reality that is, but I think the harshness of her character is overemphasized.  I did always think Audrey had a kind strength to her and the kindness is missing from Olsen’s performance.


Hiddleston on the other hand is phenomenal in the role.  It could not have been cast better.  Everything from the look, singing and mannerisms were right on.

As for the conclusion, I would have loved to see the filmmakers venture into was the questions surrounding his death.  The consensus was that it was a heart attack related to his abuse of alcohol and drugs.  The true story as we know it is that Dr. P H Cardwell gave him injections of morphine and Vitamin B-12.  He died on the way to a show.  Later Dr. Malinin conducted an autopsy and cited a severe kick to the groin and hemorrhages in the heart and neck.   Some cite a conspiracy, murder, and/or a cover-up.  I would have much preferred the film starting from the end working backwards.  Even if the end agreed with the consensus, I think it would have made for a more entertaining and gripping film.

That isn’t to say that I don’t recommend it.  Hiddleston fans will definitely enjoy his performance.  Hank Williams fans will love the music and Hiddleston’s respectful way of portraying the downfall of the singer.

If nothing else, Tom Hiddleston brought me back to listening to Hank Williams Sr.’s classics.  As for the film, I wouldn’t buy this one but it’s a good rental.


Scared Stiff Rating: 5.5/10


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