Here’s the trailer for I Saw the Light, our first full look at Tom Hiddleston playing country music legend Hank Williams in the upcoming musical biopic. The actor, best known for his work as Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, looks the part pretty well, but I must admit that the overall look and seeming trajectory of the storytelling suggests the rote narrative patterns of the musical biopics that took off in the early aughts. Indeed, I saw flashes of both Ray and Walk the Line in the two-minute assemblage of footage, along with a smattering of solid supporting performers, most notably the great Elizabeth Olsen as Williams’ wife and Bradley Whitford as the man who discovered Williams and his songs.
Check out the trailer for I Saw the Light below:
The problem with biopics like this is that they often harp on the normalcy of these towering figures, boiling them down to familiar philosophical and social struggles, from drugs and drinking to religion and infidelity. There’s not enough attention given to the creative process that these great people followed and often got tangled up in, the spark of odd genius that leads to a classic song, or simply the everyday gestures and experiences that fed into their unique understanding of life.
It’s not surprising then that early word of I Saw the Light has not been particularly kind outside of the performances, but this wouldn’t be the first time that Hiddleston and Olsen have made films sufferable by their very inclusion. For the latter, Liberal Arts was a prime example of how Olsen’s naturalistic charms, physicality, and timing can power an otherwise dreadful bore; this goes double for In Secret. And for Hiddleston, his work in the Thor films have constituted the only reasonable excuse to sit through the entire runtime of the first film. One can hope that director-producer Marc Abraham cooks up a few other reasons to ride out I Saw the Light, but if not, we’ll be in capable hands in terms of acting at least.