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Film Review: “Blaze” (2018) ★★★


Do we ever get a biopic to watch about a famous personality who lived long enough or whose life was not interrupted by an unfortunate accident? Sadly, when the life lived was less eventful, it never goes as far as to reach to our silver screen. So, we could not sit and watch with admiration how tough the life was for someone who seems to have had everything to live happily ever after. But the reality is, whether you’re a famous person or just an ordinary human being with unexposed personal life, the end is always the same – the life cycle will go on and on until something happens, so we once again need to remind ourselves, no one is immortal.

Ethan Hawke directs Blaze Foley’s biopic with the screenplay co-written by Sybil Rosen, whose memory “Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley” was used as a source of information. Ben Dickey, a real musician, portrays country music singer-songwriter Blaze Foley, who, as every other talented person realizes after entering on a self-destructive path, that it will eventually have a word to say in the end. The film is made from multiple angles – from the perspective of Townes Van Zandt, during an interview to a radio DJ, from Blaze Foley’s side, and of course, his love interest Sybil Rosen, who knew Blaze as a gentle, down to earth man she was in love with.

Ben Dickey as Blaze manages to embody an interesting character, who, perhaps as a musician himself, understood Foley’s world, and that was the trigger for an actor/musician to capture what someone like Dickey would understand. Alia Shawkat as Sybil is terrific. Her effortless approach to the character she portrays is what makes Shawkat an extraordinary painter who can put herself into any shoes or face, if she wants to. However, as a viewer, as you watch the slow-burning biopic drama, you get into the deep and troubled life of Foley, which, if you don’t know what really happened and how he died, will expect him to drink himself to death.

While that may not happen, “Blaze” offers an honest perspective of a musician and his way of living life, facing fears. For instance, when he could have become a parent, Blaze Foley allows his girlfriend to proceed with abortion. That makes them both risk takers, whose commitment to themselves or their own world cannot be disrupted under any circumstances. As the film progresses, there is a lot to process, a lot to comprehend, and even more to learn. That is what makes Ethan Hawke’s third feature movie so interesting and different. Because every time when he gets himself into a movie project, expect something wise, concise and meaningful.

In the end, “Blaze” may not reveal much what we would like to know about Blaze Foley, but provides enough material to the viewer to play with. Beautiful direction, eloquently written screenplay and solid performance of the cast makes “Blaze” a worthwhile movie to watch that includes Blaze Foley’s songs as a great bonus to spend two hours productively.

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