Trailer For Ethan Hawke’s BLAZE Promises A Texas Legend

The SXSW favorite is a celebration of an oft-forgotten Lone Star State artist.

Blaze is a rather remarkable little movie. Ethan Hawke's third feature directorial effort in seventeen years - which he also co-wrote with Sybil Rosen - the film chronicles the life and times of Blaze Foley (played here by actor/musician Ben Dickey), the unsung songwriting legend of the Texas outlaw music movement that also spawned both Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson.

Much like Todd Haynes' I'm Not There, there's an abstract quality to Hawke's approach that keeps Blaze from ever entering conventional biopic territory, as the narrative's told in three interwoven periods of Blaze's life: his love affair with muse Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat); his final, dark night on earth; and the lasting impact his songs had on his fans, friends, and enemies. It's a rather brilliant, moving structure, zeroing in on how even those artists that never really make it into the mainstream lexicon speak to legions of individuals around them. 

Take a look at the trailer IFC just released, which showcases Blaze's gorgeous cinematography from Steve Cosens: 

While the music and filmic storytelling quirks are great, the real story behind Blaze is Dickey, who brings a laid back, charismatic sadness to the struggling singer, who always seems on the edge of giving up even in his happiest moments. There's a tragedy to his version of Blaze Foley that's undeniable, as he delivers country and western music's cinematic equivelant of Llewyn Davis. 

In celebration of a movie this proud of its Texas heritage, Hawke and Sundance Selects have decided to bring the film to the Lone Star State first – releasing the movie regionally before New York and Los Angeles. Austin (Hawke’s hometown) will be the first market in the nation to open Blaze on August 17th, with additional Texas cities added in the following weeks. Hawke and Dickey are joining the picture on this Texas-wide tour to introduce the film in seven cities: Amarillo, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.

The rest of the country will have to wait until September to see Blaze, but trust me, it's well worth it. This is one of the more poignant, idiosyncratic films you'll watch this year, as Hawke has crafted a real love letter to both the artist and the culture that nurtured him.