FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last night, I saw “Walk the Line,” which stars Joaquin Phoenix (Signs, Gladiator), Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde, Wild), Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love [TV series], Zootopia), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The X-Files [TV series]), Dallas Roberts (3:10 to Yuma, The Grey), Dan John Miller (My One and Only, Leatherheads), and Shelby Lynne (Army Wives [TV series], Another Pair of Aces). It is directed by James Mangold (The Wolverine, Girl Interrupted), who also wrote the screenplay with Gill Dennis (Return to Oz, On My Own). This film chronicles the life of country music legend Johnny Cash (Phoenix), from his childhood to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis, displaying his downfall in character and his relationship with June Carter (Witherspoon).
Over the last couple of weeks, pretty much since the “Logan” trailer released, I’ve grown to follow Johnny Cash’s music quite heavily. When learning guitar, which I’ve just picked up, my first song I learned to play was “I Walk the Line.” Technically, it was the intro, and I am still working on the song as a whole as you read this, but it’s good to know it nonetheless. Many of his hits got stuck in my head, like “Ring of Fire” and “Folsom Prison Blues,” and after a while it seemed necessary to sit down on Friday night and watch the James Mangold directed “Walk the Line.” With as many Oscars that this film was nominated for, as well as the terrific cast, I didn’t expect anything less than good. However, I was afraid that I would be slow, considering how it lasts over two hours long. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, as I was engaged with this feature from beginning to end. Johnny Cash’s life is incredibly interesting; he is a man who has made many mistakes in his life, and most of the time it is difficult to root for him in the movie. He was a jerk, womanizer, and drug addict, all wrapped into one. It was in his downfall that he eventually woke up, and began to take care of himself and do good for others. This was a very well-executed biography drama, focusing not only on Cash, but his relationship with June Carter. Beginning at Folsom prison, a famous performance in his career, the story soon transitions to the earlier days of Cash’s life, where he is working on his family’s farm as a young boy. Observing this non-linear start, it was a proper way of introducing the story, as once the plot catches up to that point, everything makes more sense for how Cash is acting before his performance. From then on, it’s a chronological detailing of Cash’s life, using specific events to flesh out who he is as a person. Although quite a bit of these scenes serve to a means of biography rather than narrative, one should expect this in a film showing a famous figure’s life. I never checked the time once because no matter how many times the plot hit a dry spot (which wasn’t often), I was invested in the characters and where they would end up, being as how I didn’t know much about Cash. The acting to pull this story together was simply fantastic. Joaquin Phoenix, though a peculiar fellow in real life, portrays Johnny Cash brilliantly, and even sings some of his songs well. He embodied the inner torment of Cash and his addiction wonderfully, making me both pity and dislike him (like I said, this movie makes it hard to root for Cash, for he wasn’t a good guy earlier in his career). Reese Witherspoon, who took home this flick’s only Oscar for best actress, did an amazing job, selling June Carter just as good as Phoenix sold Cash. Their chemistry was realistic, and they were by far the best part of this. Everyone else did greatly too, from Robert Patrick to Gennifer Goodwin. They definitely gave the award season a run for its money. As I have stated before, I enjoyed this movie thoroughly, and will admit to finding it hard to pick a specific con about it. All of the pieces set in place are fantastic, so what I can really say about the film in general is how in certain spots it can get dry. Not boring, but dry. It’s like sandwiching one area where it can be slow in between two heavily engaging moments; it’s hard to notice when the plot can be slow, but it does leave a dry effect. Most scenes were necessary to develop the characters and their drives, so in turn, a lot of the dry scenes are justified. Anything more I can say about how this film isn’t perfect merely lies in my overall feeling towards it. Overall, this is a biography worthy of your attention. Not only does the cast shine like a sky of stars, but the story of Johnny Cash is incredibly interesting. I was entertained throughout and implore all of you to watch it. FINAL SCORE: 94%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: