Almost everyone has heard of Johnny Cash. The “Man in Black” is famous for songs like Ring of Fire, Walk The Line, Don’t take your guns to town, I could go on. But I knew very little about Johnny Cash himself. I do have one of his “best of” albums, but I’m not what you call a huge fan.
Still, I like what I have heard of, and am a fan of Joaquin’s, and think that Reese Witherspoon is watchable, so I knew that I’d be going to see this film. And hoping it’d be good.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Walk The Line is just so very watchable. You got the pretty people, the great music, the wonderful story, and the tragic childhood. I know that there are comparisons being made with last year’s Ray but I didn’t se that, so can’t comment.
Phoenix is great in this role. He is John Cash. And I think that having him and Witherspoon sing the songs themselves was a great move. It adds so much to both of their performances.
The film starts off outside a prison. The camera moves in, and as it does we begin to hear the crowd chanting, and a band playing, the same few bars over and over again, as they, and everyone else waits for Cash to come out on stage.
Backstage, in the woodshop we get our first glimpse of Phoenix as Johnny Cash, and almost at once we flashback to his childhood. To working in the cotton fields with his family, listening to the radio, chatting with his older brother Jack. And then tragedy, as in an accident Jack dies, leaving J.R. (as he was called) feeling guilty for going fishing, not to mention hearing his father saying that the wrong son, the good son, died.
For the rest of the film this hangs over Cash. The audience isn’t hit over the head with it at every turn, but we are aware of it. And I wonder if the fact that Joaquin lost his older brother made his performance more intense.
It may be marketed as a bio of Johnny Cash, but for the most part this film is a love story. The story of Johnny and June. And it has all the highs and lows you’d expect, dealing as it does with divorce, drug-addiction and family tensions. But there is also a fair amount of humour thrown in there, along with more than a few stars who show up as characters.
Well worth watching.