Walk the Line
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Review #2 of 365
Film: Walk the Line [PG-13] 136 minutes
When 1st Seen: 12 January 2006
Where Viewed: Loew’s Cineplex Meridian 16, Seattle, WA
Time: 6:10 p.m.
Review Dedicated to: Mick and Terrie B. of Wauseca, MN
Well, I admit to being a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to Walk the Line. Probably the bulk of the people remaining who haven’t seen this film fit in my category. Despite my being a major movie buff with the intent to see just about every movie released, I do tend to avoid biopics for some reason. Truthfully, also, I was never a real fan of Johnny Cash’s music. Nor was I particularly a fan of June Carter Cash—in fact, I never really knew there was a June Carter before June Carter Cash. Also, I was not a very big Joaquin Phoenix fan, though I believe he showed some glimmers of greatness in his portrayal of Lucius Hunt in The Village. Finally, I have never been a very big Reese Whitherspoon fan, though I did enjoy her a great deal in this year’s Just Like Heaven. Given all of this, Walk the Line would not be a high, must-see, priority for me. Well of that WAS, that is, until now. Wow! Walk the Line is a perfect case in point for why I love going to the movies not knowing much about what to expect. There is all the potential in the world for some really great acting to pop up on screen and simply mesmerize you. Indeed, there was not a moment throughout the entire film that I thought of Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde nor Return to Paradise—one each of Ms Witherspoon’s and Mr. Phoenix’s less potent acting jobs. These two were born to play Johnny and June—this said, of course, by someone who admittedly never knew much about nor followed the Cash/Carter saga as previously mentioned. All I know, is that I genuinely believed them to be Johnny and June. Mr. Phoenix, especially, seemed to have the ghost of Johnny Cash in the room with him as he often appeared to be channeling what I imagine to be the real Johnny Cash’s extreme, retrospective anguish.
One life lesson this story captures and brings home is the harsh disappointment many growing adults face when it seems that nobody, including their own parents, is proud of what they have achieved. This and then the simultaneous release of pain and filling of joy that arrives with the realization that the only person we really need to be proud of ourselves is our self. Therein lies one of the fundamental ironies of human familial development. Johnny tried so hard his whole young life to be better than the memory of his brother, to seek the pride of his hardened, alcoholic father, and to fulfill some hidden, inner destiny; that, ultimately, he missed out on being the great person he could have been initially and eventually better person he would become. In the process, of self-discovery, he caused a tremendous amount of heartache for those whom he loved most and those who loved him most as well. One more step further down the path of life’s ultimate ironies--it may well have been this pain he endured and caused in others that served as the spring from which his great musical inspiration flowed in the first place. To survive, Johhny must learn that human beings are little more than the outward projection of their own inner imaginations. We spend our entire lives seeing ourselves as one person, while every one else sees us as someone very different. This final realization is exactly the transformation we witness as Johnny Cash learns to walk the line.
So, why then the lukewarm W.I.P. of $10? Slow. Slow. Slow. This is a biopic that takes its own sweet time to meander the winding river through the Shenandoah valley. There were one too many scenes of Johnny not being good to his first wife, one too many scenes of him taking pills or searching for pills to take, one too many scenes of his father showing his disappointment, and one too many scenes of him rising to stardom, and one too many scenes of him proposing to June Carter, and one too many scenes of June Carter trying to figure out what to do with Johnny, and…you get the idea. I have nothing against long movies. I’ve watched all three extended versions of the Trilogy back to back in one day. The time flew by. Not so in the case here.
On the whole, Walk the Line was probably a must see film for fans of Johnny and June. For the rest of us, it would be a $7 or $8 W.I.P. were it not for the astonishing portrayals of Johnny and June by Mr. Phoenix and Ms Witherspoon. If Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t get a best actor nomination out of this, it will be a shame of epic proportions. Had it been trimmed here and there or had scenes that really got more into the source of Johnny’s growth been inserted instead, this might have been the best picture of the year. Certainly, it has some of the best acting.
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Now Available for Purchase on DVD
Walk The Line (Widescreen Version) [DVD](2005) DVD
Walk The Line [DVD](2005) DVD
Walk The Line (Special Edition) [DVD](2005) DVD
I Walk The Line [DVD](1970) DVD
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