Ethan Hawke, director & co-script w/Sybil Rosen
Starring: Ben Dickey (Blaze Foley), Alia Showkat (Sybil Rosen), Charlie Sexton (Townes Van Zandt), Josh Hamilton (Zee), Sam Rockwell (Oilman #1), Steve Zahn (Oilman #2), Kris Kristofferson (Edwin Fuller), Sybil Rosen (as Sybil’s mother),Richard Linklater (Oilman #3), Ethan Hawke (radio D.J.)
2018 is shaping up to be a memorable year for Ethan Hawke. He’s already garnered best actor awards for his role as a priest struggling with a crisis of faith in First Reformed from the Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Toronto Film Critics associations. Now, his directorial effort Blaze is hitting the screens in Canada, months after its debut at Sundance.
A personal project for Hawke, the film is a loving, downbeat account of the life of Blaze Foley, a country folk singer, whose penchant for writing beautiful melancholy ballads was only matched by his love of drinking hard liquor to excess. Musicians Ben Dickey and Charlie Sexton inhabit their roles as Foley and his pal, the singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt, to perfection and one can imagine that Hawke must have enjoyed guiding these new thespians to give authentic performances. Arrested Development star Alia Shawkat is excellent as Blaze’s Jewish wife, Sybil Rosen. Shawkat must have found her role a difficult one as the real Sybil Rosen was the co-writer with Hawke of the film’s script and was allowed easy access on set since she plays her mother in one key scene. (Talk about creating a meta moment in a film!)
Although a bit slow from time to time, Blaze features great country folk songs written by Foley and Van Zandt and offers a sad but gorgeous view of America in the recent past. Hawke has scored another major success with this film.
Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus
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