Sunday, March 19, 2006
Not sure what all the fuss is about. Walk the Line isn't bad, but it's not new or surprising--every musician biopic ever made has the humble beginnings, the youthful encounter with tragedy, the not-so-perfect love, the redemptive love, the drugs, the rages, the drying out. Here we have more drugs and booze than necessary--Cash's odd blend of mysticism and dirtfarm Evangelical Christianity is barely hinted at. We rarely get a glimpse of Cash the artist and innovator, but spend an hour and a half watching him pop pills. Ray was also the same-old same-old, but Jamie Foxx's mimicry was spot-on. Joaquin Phoenix is tolerably good, and gets down certain quirky gestures of an amphetimine-addled John R. Cash, but he can't croak a note, and one must endure his attempts to do so for more than two hours. Reese Witherspoon is endearing but turns June Carter into a Hee-Haw caricature. Maybe I'm too picky because I regard Cash as a totem pole uprooted and walking, a piece of Mt. Rushmore made quick through some pow-wow magic, and frankly Walk the Line fails to satisfy.
I like the idea of seeing a movie with Jerry Lee, Elvis, June Carter, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, and Roy Orbinson on tour more than I liked actually seeing this one. There are good bits--Sam Phillips giving Cash hell when he walks in with a rote gospel performance, for example. But mostly this is standard Hollywood fare.