Director: Marc Abraham (2016)
This befuddled biopic sheds little light on the life of country music maestro Hank Williams.
It begins with a spine tingling rendition of his classic ‘Cold Cold Heart’, but it’s sadly all down hill from there.
Though the star of TV’s The Night Manager Tom Hiddleston sings his heart out, he chooses to hide his looks and charm under a cowboy hat. He does a decent of copy of Williams’ agitated crab stage gait.
By the time Williams died in 1953 at the tragically young age of 29, he had became one of the most influential singer songwriters of his time.
But you wouldn’t know that from the episodic and jumbled narrative given to us here.
We first meet Hank when he’s already enjoying a degree of success with his band and a regular slot on local radio. He has ambitions to appear on The Grand Ole Opry, the number one TV destination for country singers.
An impetuous, tempestuous, immoral, feckless,unreliable husband father and artist, the narrative is a familiar rock biography checklist of an alcohol fuelled career slide as he loses gigs, wives and friends.
But it’s presented full of leaps, detours and evasions, offering random snapshots of his life instead of a coherent story.
We’re spoon fed a brief resume of his success at the end, but it’s provided without context and leaves us with no greater understanding of his importance to country music or wider cultural impact or degree of success.
The classic songs Williams wrote such as ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ are short changed.
And so are the women. They’re presented as grasping and fertile while Hank takes no responsibility for his own behaviour.
Elizabeth Olsen is a determined presence as his wife Audrey, but is portrayed as a humourless self serving money grabber.
Except for Hiddleston the performers don’t seem to be enjoying themselves, and I didn’t either.