Walk the Line
Love is a burning thing.
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Tyler Hilton
Joaquin Phoenix can now be forgiven for The Village. All judgement about him being expressionless and camera shy can be thrown out of the window. He is magnificent. Walk the Line is one of those films that will either be a cinematic masterpiece, or it will fail spectacularly. Luckily for Mangold, the film is a triumph. Walk the Line is about the life of music legend Johnny Cash and it chooses a traditional path to tread, centring around his emotional and private life and the effect it has on his music. One might be inclined to believe that any actor willing to imitate Cash would be a glutton for punishment, but Phoenix is masterful. So impressive is his performance that one immediately believes to be watching Cash and not Phoenix. The film isn’t one big impersonation: it’s about discovering the man behind the music.
Concentrating mainly on Cash’s relationship with June Carter (Witherspoon), the film establishes the enduring friendship between them and Johnny’s constant hope for more. The pair sing on tour together and it is clear that they are soul mates, both on and off the stage. However, a sea of woe stands between them: June’s divorce, June’s new husband and Johnny's addiction to amphetamines. When June has had enough of drugs, the hardship and the social isolation, she leaves the tour - sending Johnny into a downward spiral of depression, rage and financial problems. His first marriage to Vivian (a simple housewife with none of June’s fire and energy but likeable) is in tatters, especially after it is clear that Johnny’s romantic intentions lie elsewhere. The backbone of the film is the relationship between Cash and his father. His father held the unexpected and untimely death of Johnny's elder brother as Johnny’s fault, initiating the guilt and pain Johnny feels about life and his family - something that is reflected in his music. The devil, his father scathes ‘took the wrong son’.
The accomplished vocal work of Phoenix and Witherspoon is brilliant. Phoenix’s ‘on-stage’ performances are just sensational. The acting is spot-on on all accounts. This insight into one of music's greatest legends is flawless and captivating and can be watched repeatedly for many years to come.
Screenings of this film:
|2005/2006 Summer Term – (35mm)|