Walk the Line Reviews
Joaquin Phoenix gives a brilliant performance as Johnny Cash, and Reese Witherspoon gives the performance of her career! She completely deserved her Oscar.
Not knowing much about Johnny Cash, I didn't quite know what to expect. Happily enough, I was treated to an interesting tale of living the high life, almost burning out and gaining another chance.
It was said somewhere that Johnny himself wanted Joaquin Phoenix to portray him on the big screen and you can see why. He's able to step right into Johnny's shoes and show us how tortured he felt, partly about the accidental death of his brother (which put a much greater strain on the relationship with his father, convinced his older brother was the "good one"), partly about his feelings for fellow musician June Carter (Reese Witherspoon, more on her later). His singing voice is top-notch and he really does wonders for such classics like I Walk The Line, Folsom Prison Blues and Jackson (coincidentally, my favourite Johnny Cash song). He balances the anguish of Johnny's personal life by making his stage presence the essence of confidence. All it takes is to dress in black and just announce, simply: "Hello. I'm Johnny Cash".
One of my absolute favourite scenes in the movie is his audition in the first act. He's doing a gospel song and it's clear that he's rather be singing something with more meaning to him. So the man he's auditioning for says he should sing whatever he wants. He breaks out with one of the songs he's written, Folsom Prison Blues, and that's what impresses the man (incidentally, Folsom Prison Blues has one of the greatest lines I've ever heard in a song with "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die").
Now onto Reese Witherspoon, playing June Carter. Throughout the movie, June acts as John's anchor, his salvation. When he gets addicted to drugs and spirals downwards, it is June's concerns and action that get him to clean up his act. The song Ring Of Fire represents how June felt towards Johnny and it's nice to know how much of a positive influence June Carter was.
Seeing as how she chose Reese to play her, it's clear both Cashes were spot on in their choices. Reese is feisty, confident and has a knockout set of pipes. In my opinion, this is her best role to date (and on a more trivial note, I propose she keep her hairstyle and colour the same as shown here. Works for her, it really does).
I'm glad I watched this movie, I really am. I heard wonderful songs I had never heard before and classics through new vocals (I may be hung, drawn and quartered for this but I think Phoenix's and Witherspoon's rendition of Jackson edges out over the original by a little). John and June were two fascinating people and I'm glad to have seen this look into their lives.