Blaze Foley (Ben Dickey) wanted to be a legend, not just a star. This film could make him the legend he always wanted to be. So why did he sabotage his life? Isn’t this the question asked of all with mental illness and addiction? The story of Blaze’s life is told through the framework of a radio interview. The interviewer (voiced by Ethan Hawke) is interviewing Blaze’s friends Townes Van Zandt (Charlie Sexton) and Zee (Josh Hamilton). As the interview progresses the movie flashes back to both the happy and sad times of Blaze’s life. The happiest and most stable time of his life is the time with Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat) in the tree house. She was the inspiration for most of his music. Their chemistry together on the screen is intoxicating. She called herself his muse, which she obviously was. But as all things go with mental illness and addiction there were also sad, destructive times. Sybil encourages Blaze to bring his music to the world and they move from the tree house to the music scene in Austin, TX and Blaze’s grip on stability is shattered. The downhill spiral has started.
I was lucky enough to go to a screening courtesy of the USA Film Society. Ethan Hawke and Ben Dickey had a Q&A afterwards. One of things I found most fascinating was the use of time in the movie. Ethan explained that to tell a story in sequence assumes you know the truth, we didn’t know the truth. The moving back and forth in time reinforces the feeling of “we aren’t sure what happened”. For me the moving of time added to the understanding of the chaos that was Blaze’s life. Hawke did a fabulous job with the cast hiring musician instead of actors. Music is obviously an extremely important part of this movie. Blaze’s bluesy songs bring so much emotion to the film. Ethan said that he used the Blaze Foley’s songs as fence posts for the movie, moving your through the movie song by song.
Not all movies, have happy endings and this is definitely not one of them but worth the trip to the theater.
Our Rating for Blaze
BLAZE is inspired by the life of Blaze Foley, the unsung songwriting legend of the Texas outlaw music movement that spawned the likes of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. The film weaves together three different periods of time, braiding re-imagined versions of Blaze’s past, present and future. The different strands explore his love affair with Sybil Rosen; his last, dark night on earth; and the impact of his songs and his death had on his fans, friends, and foes. The braided story line terminates in a bittersweet ending that acknowledges Blaze’s profound highs and lows, as well as the impressions he made on the people who shared his journey.
Blaze Sundance Q & A
Sundance Film Festival 2018
|Principle Cast||Ben Dickey, Charlie Sexton, Josh Hamilton, Alia Shawkat|
|Screenwriter||Ethan Hawke, Sybil Rosen|
|Production Companies||Ansgar Media, Cinetic Media, Village Studios|
|Run Time||127 minutes|
|Genre||Biography, Drama, Music|