Sunday, November 27, 2005

Walk The Line

Rating: C+

Being as I work in country music, I felt the need, yeah compelled to see Walk the Line, the latest biopic Oscar-bait served up by Hollywood. As it turns out, the mostly true story of country music legend Johnny Cash is more interesting than most original stories coming out of Hollywood these days. Go figure.

This slice of Cash's life deals with his time between his childhood and 1968. He deals with a harsh father, the death of his brother, and basically no one that believes that he will make it as a singer. He gets married and then starts his career in Memphis alongside Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, and Roy Orbison. Can you imagine the seesions those guys had? Chili fries all around!

I was slightly disappointed that the movie delt more with Cash's drug addictions and his endless pursuit of goody goody singer June Carter. Johnny falls for June the moment he sees her, but as both of them are married, the union will have to wait. And so begins the dance between the two. Well, it's mostly Johnny throwing himself on her, and her rejecting him, and then him doing drugs to cope.

Joaquin Pheonix is pretty dead on as Johnny Cash. If you look at him in profile, it's a twin, but from the front, no so much. He lacks Johnny's hard edge looks and crags and wrinkles that truely shaped his music. Pheonix does look perpetually sleepy, even when sober, and he sweats a lot. Don't know if over active sweat glands were a problem with the real Johnny Cash, but they are here. Reese Witherspoon is fantastic as the lost, sometimes lonely, but very resiliant June Carter. She sure puts up with a lot more than my girlfriends have.

One place where this movie really shines is on the stage. Pheonix and Witherspoon do all thier on vocals and play thier own instruments , and they do both in very convincing fashion. Close your eyes, and you can just hear Johnny and June belting out "Jackson"

Overall, not a bad movie. It will definately be up for Oscars, there is no doubt. I just wish they had toned down the drugs and turned up more of the music. Perhaps more of his work with the American Indians or expanded the time after he got clean and became extremely religous. Oh well, it seems that the scars and all biopic pattern that is being set in Hollywood is here to stay for now.


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