CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

"Walk the Line" tows the line...

"Walk the Line" will draw comparisons with last year's
Oscar winning flick, "Ray." Both Johnny Cash and Ray
Charles were impoverished country boys who suffered
from the tragedy of losing a brother via accident.
Both artists skyrocketted to success as a musical
artist with a distinct individual style. While both
styles were contemporary, both Johnny and Ray
performed as if they received the fire of knowledge
from Prometheus himself. Like a Greek Tragedy, both
Ray Charles and Johnny Cash suffered for many years
with a personal failing. Yet the story about Johnny
Cash and Ray Charles is a uniquely American story,
where destinies matter more than origins and
perseverance is the norm.

Robert Patrick portrays Cash's hard nosed father who
says some cruel things to his youngest boy. He is an
ominous figure who is heard, but not seen, in an
opening shot. His voice bellows with the intensity of
brutal whippings from past and present. It is also the
voice of 10 year old June Carter that young Johnny
Cash hears on thae radio that night. Screenwriter Gill
Dennis and Director James Mangold set up the conflict
for the major theme of "Walk the Line,", the demonic
influence of his abusive alcoholic father with that of
the angelic savior that is his future wife, June
Carter Cash (Reese Witherspoon).

At first, Joaquin Phoenix looks more Elvis than The
Man in Black, yet he gives a performance that matures
as the film progresses. Like the Beatles before they
became known as John, Paul, George and Ringo, the
barnstorming tour of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins,
Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash reveals that these
performers were more alike than dissimilar. Director
James Mangold portrays these American musical icons as
good old boys never meaning no harm. June Carter is
both tomboy and surrogate den mother who tries to keep
professional order out of organized chaos. It is
during these times that Johnny develop stronger
feelings towards June, despite the inconvenience that
both individuals are married.

"Walk the Line" recreates the naive 1950's world when
a divorce was considered a public sin. Despite her
Christian values and behavior, June Carter is
reprimanded by a fan because of her first divorce. In
contrast, there are some great scenes that family
value advocates will cheer. While Cash comes from a
broken home, the Carter family gathers together in
times of adversity. "Walk the Line " proves that
deeds, not creeds, determines one's redemption. There
is a subtle and classy payoff in the last frame of
film that makes this 136 minute motion picture

Joquin Phoenix and Resse Witherspoon's performances
drive this movie. Besides mastering the guitar and
autoharp, Phoenix and Witherspoon present an emotional
honesty to their performances. Given his cartoonish
roles on "Terminator 2 Judgement Day" and "The X
Files," Robert Patrick brings forth a stoic depth to
Johnny Cash's father. Without breaking his character's
emotional stoicism, Patrick communicates his
character's deep seated pain. Keep an eye out for
South Florida actor Tim Ware as a cynical promoter who
organizes Johnny Cash's concert at Fulsom Prison.

Then there is the original music by Johnny Cash and T.
Bone Burnett. Like "Ray,""Walk the Line "
features the artist's best known songs. More so than
most musical dramas, the "Walk the Line" musical
passages comments as a conscience to Cash's life at a
certain point. When he collapses on stage from a drug
overdose, the song “Cocaine Blues” takes on special
poignancy. The mating dance onstage with June Carter
provides a special courtship for the two lovers. As
corny as the courtship consummates, it is more fact
than screenwriting exaggeration. This public
pronouncement of individual expression works in an
emotionally honest way.

Last year, “Ray” inspired me to listen to more boogie
woogie and rhythm and blues. After seeing “Walk the
Line,” I been trying to get my baritone to sing in the
Johnny Cash’s register. It has been a struggle, but
that is what it takes to tow the line. "Walk the Line"
will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled in
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.