Walk The Line
Music biopics are a tricky thing to pull off well. I have a great amount of respect for actors who can inhabit real-life characters – particularly the ones who also manage to faithfully recreate a famous singer. It has been done before, but not too often. One of the best was Val Kilmer practically being posessed by Jim Morrison for Oliver Stone’s appropriately insane The Doors. While I have yet to talk myself into seeing last year’s Ray (a music performer I have zero interest in), it was impressive to see Jamie Foxx in the trailers and clips I saw, as he seemed to also manage to nail his performance. Well, Joaquin Phoenix joins the ranks with another spot-on perfect performance. But here’s the real surprise – this film features TWO amazing recreations – Phoenix’s performance as Cash and Reese Witherspoon who is amazing as June Carter. Phoenix may light up the screen with his performance, but when the two of them are together the screen lights on fire. I remember reading that Cash himself was involved in casting Phoenix. I don’t remember if him or June Carter were involved in casting Witherspoon or not. The real couple died (within months of each other) during the early stages of the making of this film. I have to imagine that both of them would have been impressed with the final result, and with the performances of Phoenix & Witherspoon. Both of them should be up for Oscars. While I typically hate country music, there are a handful of Johnny Cash’s songs that I like. I have also had people make Johnny Cash jokes in reference to the fact that I like to dress in all black. So, while I may not particularly like a lot of the music in this film for the music itself, I was still amazed by the performances and production of the film – and the music itself is incidental to the writing of the film. It is the context of the story. The rest of the cast deserves some praise as well. As a Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan, I had to be amused by the appearance of Larry Bagby playing one of Cash’s band members (Bagby had a recurring role during the early seasons of Buffy). Robert Patrick is fantastic as Cash’s hard-to-please father and Ginnifer Goodwin does a good job with a tough role – Cash’s first wife Vivian.