A straightforward recounting of Hank Williams' final days would be compelling without any help from Hollywood. The country legend, en route to a gig in Ohio, died at the age of 29 in 1953, worn out from alcoholism, morphine and near-constant physical pain.
Williams has received the biopic treatment before (1964's forgettable Your Cheatin' Heart) but The Last Ride likewise won't go down in history as the definitive portrayal of the singer-songwriter's slow fade. (The dearth of actual Williams tunes performed by the man himself and some truly wretched green-screen work don't help.)
Surely someone out there is interested in making a watchable film about one of Nashville's most iconic figures. Williams' story is twice as harrowing as Walk the Line, for instance, albeit without the element of redemption found in Johnny Cash's life.
Williams is portrayed here by Henry Thomas, who gamely tries to evoke the icon's failing health. His teenage chauffeur, Silas (Jesse James, bearing a startling resemblance to Thomas), struggles to please not only the ill-tempered "Mr. Wells," but also a coterie of managers and hangers-on. Director Harry Thomason's reliance on an oppressively grim style (dull gray winter skies; a dark car interior) makes an already trying story even more so.
"Most of what follows is true," reads a pre-credits title card. The filmmakers also forgot "deadly dull" and "unnecessary."
Exclusive: Angelika Dallas