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Walk the Line

Walk the Line

What She said:

She

Walk the Line tells the story of singer Johnny Cash, his troubled childhood, his rise to fame, and inevitably, his downfall.  All while simultaneously following a budding love story between him and fellow country/folk singer June Carter.  It’s unclear to me exactly how true the film is, although it’s said to be based on Cash’s autobiographies.  What amazes me about this movie is how interesting and engaging this 2 ½ hour product really is.  I did not, even once, get bored, which sort of blew my mind.

The characters in this movie are real, and the acting is a treat to watch.  Joaquin Phoenix, who, aside from his derailed 2 years as a rap star, has established himself as a remarkably gifted actor, plays Cash.  An equally stellar, Reese Witherspoon, is June Carter.  Now, I’ve never imagined this pair having chemistry, but their on-screen appeal is magnetic.  Special kudos to Ginnifer Goodwin as well, who plays Cash’s first wife, Vivian.  She sort of flies under the radar, but her character, and the fact that the viewer both empathizes with her and grows to dislike her, is very important. 

Walk the Line is marked by wonderful music, all of which is actually performed by Phoenix and Witherspoon, and a sense of authenticity.  We become acquainted with the music scene, and even get to see Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis in action.  It’s a solid movie from start to finish that shows the flaws of all its characters while at the same time highlighting their positive attributes.  It’s easy to like Johnny Cash and June Carter, but they’re by no means perfect, particularly Cash.  The film is a fascinating look into the lives of these icons of the industry.  Certainly worth your time.

Thumbs up. 

What he said:

He

I am not going to sit here and tell you I am some huge Johnny Cash fan that knows about all the intricate details of the troubled musician’s life. Before the movie, I knew who he was, heard a few of his songs, and knew he led a fairly stereotypical lifestyle for a musician. Outside of that, I didn’t knew very little of him.  

But one of the many good things about this film is that you don’t have to be a fan of his to be drawn into this movie. It has an authenticity to it that makes it very watchable, which is impressive because it’s over two hours. It’s not flashy at all and Cash’s story isn’t anything all that unique, but it’s just so well done that it will keep you entertained from start to finish.

I am sure I will sound like I’m shortchanging the writer and directors, but the performances of Phoenix and Witherspoon are undoubtedly what drives this movie. Not only did they make you believe they were these people, they sang all the songs too! Talk about dedication! As someone who admittedly knows very little of Johnny Cash, June Carter, and their relationship, I feel like I know them a heck of a lot better as a result of these performances. Their relationship was a complex one, but the chemistry between these two makes you feel like you’ve known them for years.

Ginnifer Goodwin is also something of an unsung hero for her role as Cash’s first wife Vivian. This was the second time I had seen this movie, but first in a few years. This time around, I appreciated her a lot more. Cash was an alcoholic, pill popper, and a womanizer while married to Vivian, so it was not as if she didn’t have any reason to be angry at the guy. But there was just something about her that was very unlikeable. Your sympathetic to her because of what she had to go through, but can’t help and find yourself wondering why she was on his ass all the time. She never seemed to support him, even before he started running around on her.  Goodwin’s successfully managed to make you both sympathize for and dislike this woman all at the same time.

Robert Patrick AKA the liquid terminator was also very good as Cash’s father Ray. Early in life he was an alcoholic who disapproved of his son’s daydreaming and aspirations to become a musician. Even when he cleaned up later in life, he still looked down on his son; who had his own addiction problems at that point. The movie seems to indicated they were on better terms by the time Johnny made a comeback and I hope that part of the film was accurate.

The movie chronicles 30 or so years of his life. It examines his childhood and early obsession with music, to his rise in fame, his demise, and also his comeback. All while detailing the long courtship he had with June Carter. The two of them almost seemed destined to be together, it just happened to take them a very long time to both realize it. Both went through a series of problems that seemed to prohibit them from being together.

This is probably one of the best biopic's I have ever seen.

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review as written for your reading pleasure on June 16, 2011.