Saturday, November 26, 2005

Walk the Line

Rob Gordon: Hey, I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I'm certainly not the dumbest. I mean, I've read books like "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" and "Love in the Time of Cholera", and I think I've understood them. They're about girls, right? Just kidding. But I have to say my all-time favorite book is Johnny Cash's autobiography "Cash" by Johnny Cash.
-High Fidelity

Directed by James Mangold and featuring stellar performance from Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line is the story of the early part of Johnny Cash's career. His father, played by Robert "T-1000" Patrick, is an overbearing drunkard who blames Johnny for his older brother's death. Cash's rise from nothing into a huge country star is the stuff of typical Hollywood biopictorials but it makes for a compelling story. The recipe is simple: Mix equal parts parental pressure, anti-familial temptation, drug abuse, and allure of fame and you have a biopic. Walk the Line is Ray set to country music- and thats not a bad thing. But what really drives the story, as in Ray, are the central performances and here Phoenix is Cash. What really strikes you when you watch this movie is that Phoenix sounds just like Johnny Cash, belting out every line of "Ring of Fire" or other assembled hits of Cash's. And while I am too young to speak authoritatively on the matter, Reese Witherspoon's performance as June Carter is very impressive, representing a strong woman forced to develop fierce independence and be the mature shepard of the wayward, drug addicted Cash.

Ultimately, I liked this movie but found it rather slight, almost a trifle. It was very good but was definitely saved by the performances. Ultimately I guess these biopics are formulaic but thats OK- they end up entertaining and inspiring- and its tough not to get excited by a prison full of felons waiting to here "Walk the Line".


Blogger ronvon2 noted on 11/27/2005 10:50:00 AM that...

We "just saw" this Friday night--you beat me to it. I think you are dead on. It is not a great film, but it is a wonderful backdrop for an inspired performance. Or perfomances. I assume two nominations will come out of this film, with Phoenix most likely winning. There are very few strong male roles this year (or at least none come to mind-maybe Munich will change that). Phoenix and Witherspoon did all their own singing, which is usually a ticket to Oscar history.  

Blogger ronvon2 noted on 11/29/2005 05:13:00 PM that...

Question for conversation:

What dead musical genius needs a biopic?  

Blogger Paul Johnson noted on 11/30/2005 11:24:00 PM that...

not dead but may as well be

in all seriousness? certainly not cobain (too cliche), but maybe janis joplin