Most of us live our lives in our comfort zones, which we rarely like to venture out of. Doing such a thing is not wrong but it makes finding new things you might love harder to do. I think though that when you do live like that and make a discovery that thing you find is that much more fulfilling. I feel like I live that way and though I try to leave my comfort zone from time to time, I do find myself more often than not, falling back into it. This is one of the reasons I love movies, because they open my eyes to stories and people I might not know of, like Ethan Hawke did with his new film, the story of Blaze Foley.
I don’t know how many of you reading this knew who he was, but trust me if you love music you will want to know. Blaze (Ben Dickey) was just a man who had a talent in writing songs, as well as some demons to go along with that. Blaze lived a simple life with the woman he loved Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat) who also served as his muse. They lived in a cabin in the woods, during which time Blaze perfects his music until Sybil tells him he is ready to share it to the world. It is then that they pack up and move to Austin where Blaze starts to play in back room bars and building a fan base. During that time he meets Townes Van Zandt (Charlie Sexton), a fellow musician and a group of men who want to make Blaze their lead act on a record label they are starting. That is when life starts to move too fast and Blaze is pulled away from his muse by a life that will eventually be his downfall, not by what he does to himself but by the people that life has put on his path.
On the surface Blaze may play like many other artists lives whose flames were extinguished far too early, but it is not. What makes this story so special is in the way it is told by someone like Ethan Hawke who co-wrote the story with Blaze’s wife Sybil Rosen and he also directed it. There are many things that make this movie stand out, one being the music which I feel is best described as enlightening. To the nonlinear storytelling that seems like the perfect way to go through this man’s life. Make no mistake though the two stars of this movie are the music and Ben Dickey who as a musician himself doesn’t do an impression of Foley, but more of a tribute to him instead. What we get in the end is the best film focusing on a musician since Inside Llewyn Davis, but with more heart. I am thankful for this story being told and for being introduced to such a songwriter whose music has been on repeat since I saw the film. I hope you see this one as well, because it’s a great story and a great film, but most of all because it’s music and a life worth knowing.