WALK THE LINE
First off, let’s just get this out of the way...Johnny Cash
was AWESOME. I think they should just put his picture in the dictionary next to the word. This is indisputable and any contention on this point only serves to make you look foolish
. He isn’t A
man in black, he is THE
Man in Black, the country music star that makes today’s so-called country superstars look like the pathetic manufactured trailer trash rejects that they actually are (although, I'm sure if Johnny
had wanted to, he could've hunted the CRAP out of some aliens but then Ripley
would have had nothing to do). Now that we’ve cleared that up, it’s important to note as well that not a minute of “Walk the Line”
, the Johnny Cash
biography picture from 2005 directed by James Mangold
, goes by without being acutely aware that Joaquin Phoenix
is NO Johnny Cash
. Sure, he does a decent job, decent enough to get him a nod at the Oscars for it, but he’s never, ever, mistakable for the one and only. I suppose this was partially what held me back from liking this film more. That and we just saw the all-too-similar “Ray”
the year before. I shouldn't be too harsh though. I mean, really...who can be Johnny Cash
but Johnny Cash
? Yes, I'm a fan, why do you ask?
With the exception of a brief prologue with Cash
as a child to establish the touchstone the film keeps coming back to, the death of his brother and disapproval of his father, “Walk the Line”
’s story with him in the Air Force in 1952 where he learns to play the guitar. After his discharge, he marries his girlfriend and moves to Memphis where they live in poverty until the one day Cash
gets his band an audition at the famous Sun Records
where they, after a false start, get awarded a contract. From then on, it’s a rags to riches to rags story as Cash
becomes a superstar, deals with multiple addictions, basically acts like a rock star, and, what the film focuses on primarily, his life-long love for June Carter
, that now-a-days would be pretty much called stalking.
The music is all great here and it’s to Phoenix
’s credit that the closest he gets to convincing you he is THE MAN is when he’s singing. It’s a completely credible take on Cash
’s voice and style that if you close your eyes you can almost believe. However, this is a movie so you don't close your eyes and the rest of the time that he's onscreen, he’s so mopey and emo that you just want to smack the pout off of him.
The film is greatly uplifted by the ever-present love story between Cash
who was played to much deserved multiple award winning acclaim by Reese Witherspoon
. She’s the heart and soul of this flick, elevating it above the lesser rock star biopic it surely would have been without her, even if I found myself almost rooting that she’d just dump this loser baggage and go find herself somebody worth a shit. That’s nothing against Cash
, just Phoenix
’s hang-dog portrayal of him which can be kind of cloying and never really captures the rapport and humor that the two reportedly shared together. Witherspoon
has so much energy and is so enormously likable in the role, that she almost singlehandedly carries the film through some of the tougher emotional spots.
Now here’s the problem: why is this not the director’s cut version of the film? Aren't we paying more for a new release of the film? Shouldn't this be as complete an edition as possible? You can't tell me someone else owns the rights to the longer version or some strange dodge like that. I’m seeing more and more of this miserly hoarding with the studios trying to stretch out their cash in what has become an insult to consumers. Is there any doubt we’ll see a blu-ray of the 18 minute longer version before too much longer? Is there any reason they couldn’t throw in something extra that wasn’t on the DVD other than the extended live performances upgraded to HD? However, for those who never picked up the original DVD, the 45 minutes of so of featurettes are interesting and the upgraded picture and sound are pretty nice as well. “Walk the Line”
on the whole is a pretty solid flick with an unassailable soundtrack, and seems a lot better now separated a bit more in time from the too similar “Ray”
. The film itself would get a BUY
but with the half-assed release of only the theatrical version, I’m gonna have to encourage you only to RENT
this sucka and wait for the inevitable more complete Director’s Cut release.
Click Here to Buy Walk the Line [Blu-ray]