Walk the Line

Hands up if you know who Johnny Cash is! I wouldn’t be surprised if not many hands went up. I for one have heard about Cash, but never really bothered to know who he is. All I knew was that he was a Country music singer in the States, and apparently, he was very popular.

Walk The Line helped me know who Cash was and how he emerged to be one of the forefront leaders of Country Music in the States. Joaquin Phoenix (pronounced Waah-keen) takes on the personality of Johnny Cash in the movie, and he does an amazing transformation, getting every nuance, body language and style of speaking amazingly well. Reese Witherspoon does an even more amazing transformation to play June Carter Cash, Johnny’s wife. Gone are her famous blond locks, and in comes the dyed black hair complete with a southern accent. So amazing have been the two leads, they have garnered nominations and even an a Golden Globe Award for Witherspoon for acting.

A large part on whether you like this movie or not depend on how much interest you have in knowing more about the country music legend, and country music itself. Most of the movie focuses on the friendship and eventual love between Johnny and June. Johnny’s earlier life is shown as he grew up in Depression hit era in the United States. His brother passes away as a kid, and Johnny suffers torments from his father. We immediately cut to the point where we see a grown Cash leave his house to make it big in music industry. He eventually marries Vivian and has children.

While trying his luck at the local recording studio, the manager tells Cash that the no one wants to hear happy songs, but rather want to hear songs that come from his heart, about heartbreaks, tough life, hardships and overcoming them. Cash sings one of his own song, and that becomes an instant classic. Soon, he has made it big, is touring the country with his band and gets to meet other rockers like Elvis Presley. June Carter is also a budding country music singer and hers and Johnny Cash’s paths are crossed at a show. There is affection and appreciation, but both are married to other people.

Cash eventually stumbles and falls as he is involved in drugs, leading him to perform poorly at some of his concerts. June dislikes Cash’s attitudes, avoids him and also struggles with her own marital status. The only time they have any privacy of their own is when they are on stage performing a duet.

Cash’s lifestyle meddling with drugs eventually leads him to a low point in his life, at which point June Carter chooses to help him out. How she nurses him back to life eventually forms the rest of the story. A lot of people may comment that most of the story is focused on the relationship between the two, and I think that is what the makers of the movie attempted to show. Amazingly enough, the script of this movie was approved by Cash and June themselves back in 2003, right after which they passed away. So with their approval, the makers of this movie created a biopic of Cash.

The acting from both the lead actors is very strong. I was most impressed with Phoenix, who I remember fondly from Signs as Gibson’s younger brother, and Witherspoon, who I remember from Legally Blonde. Both the actors have done a complete change of acting
It’s impressive. Oh, and what would a film about a country singer be without country music? The songs are really great, each one an important one, especially “Jackson” signifying their moving on with their lives. I am not sure, but I think “Jackson” was one of their more popular duets. It is also my favorite song in the movie.

Great acting, amazing music, a strong story line makes Walk the Line one of the highly acclaimed movie of the year. I certainly learned a lot more about Johnny Cash, and how he Walk(ed) the (fine) Line between destruction and redemption.

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