Monday, April 11, 2011

Walk the Line

Walk the Line (2005) is about the early life of country music singer Johnny Cash, his rise to fame and his love story with June Carter. It stars Joaquin Phoenix (Two Lovers, Gladiator), Reese Witherspoon (Pleasantville, Legally Blonde), Ginnifer Goodwin (He’s just not that into you) and a very botoxed Robert Patrick (Terminator 2).


I have to admit I knew nothing about Johnny Cash, nor June Carter, before I watched the movie. So, I cannot really tell if the story is accurate or if the characters are portrayed accurately. From what I gather, they are. Reese Witherspoon got an Oscar for her performance, after all! For information, in case you’re as little informed as I was, these are contemporary to Elvis Presley.

That aside, even if I did not know the music, it has rhythm, and it is a big part of the movie. Both Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix sang in the movie, no playback, and I have to say, they’re pretty good! After I watched the movie I listened to a couple of songs by Johnny Cash, and it is amazing how Phoenix managed to impersonate him!!

I am not a big fan of him in general, but I do have to admit Phoenix is magnificent as the tortured artist, addicted to drug and prisoner of his tough childhood memories and still grieving his brother.  


Johnny Cash: It's funny, you know, because I haven't talked about Jack in a long time. After he passed I talked about him all the time. But I guess people grew tired of it... so I just stopped.


Reese Witherspoon avoids the cliché and plays beautifully, her on-stage June is sassy and funny, out of the stage she is a mother and a responsible woman who does not give in to drugs and alcohol, and manages to tame Phoenix. I was particularly impressed with how she got rid of her "hollywood" accent to take on the June personae fully.


Johnny Cash: My Daddy's right. It should have been me on that saw. Jack was so good. He would have done so many good things. What have I done? Just hurt everybody I know. I know I've hurt you. I'm nothin'.

June Carter: You're not nothin'. You are not nothin'. You're a good man, and God has given you a second chance to make things right, John. This is your chance, honey.

The chemistry between the two is incredible and is, to me, the key factor of success of this movie. We see them fall in love, but it never falls into the "cheesy" trap.

The one thing that bothered me a little was that, the way scenes are filmed, it makes it look like Johnny Cash starts drinking and taking drugs because he is rejected by June. Like a child who throws a tantrum, when she is being reasonable and refusing an affair with him, he goes on to take pills, get wasted, and sleep with any groupie he’ll see.

The movie is inspired from reality, and is the stuff of legend, one other thing that makes me a bit uneasy is that, even though it is a fantastic love story, let’s not forget Johnny Cash, after all, is cheating on his wife and, although it is not clear, is not really present for his kids. That part of the story is left behind to focus on Johnny and June, making it look like a fairy tale and a happy ending. It is really not about criticizing the film itself, I am just ranting. History is what it is, but I am trying to make a more general, maybe cynical, point: people tend to forget there is always two sides to every story and obviously will focus on the good. Johnny and June end up together and living happily ever after, love prevails, bla bla bla, and no one cares what happens to the legitimate wife, the one who did not ask for trouble, kept her place, and ends up suffering.

So here I’d like to give special credit to Ginnifer Goodwin, the woman playing Vivian, who went against her family to marry Johnny Cash and stood by him up until it was just too much for her. Goodwin played the fluffy Gigi in He’s just not that into you, and proves she can do more than romcoms in this dramatic role. I almost did not recognize her! Here we do not really know what happened to her. Guess good old Google might be able to help with that :)

Anyway, great entertainment, great film, fantastic actors.

1 comment:

  1. After checking, just found out Reese Witherspoon is from Tenessee, which should explain how she pulled the accent. Thx J.M. for the clarification :)