RogerBW's Blog

Walk the Line (2005) 03 October 2022

2005 biopic, dir. James Mangold, Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon: IMDb / allmovie. Hello. I'm Johnny Cash.

Any biopic, in its effort to make a coherent story out of the messiness of real life, has to simplify and condense things into an individual narrative. Biopics of living or recently dead people get more complicated; often people who are or who knew the subject want some degree of creative control in return for their inside information, and what would already have been a basically positive depiction becomes more so.

In this case, I can't point at things that are grossly wrong… but I can't help noticing that Cash's first wife Vivian as depicted here, apart from the usual Doesn't Understand His Art (because she wants him to get on with providing for the children rather than noodling around on the guitar), is the only one of the three principals allowed to age. Ginnifer Goodwin gradually looks older and more haggard, while Phoenix and Witherspoon carry on looking just the same.

It probably doesn't help that the only other role in which I've seen Phoenix is Gladiator, from a few years earlier, and here he has just that same mean dissipated smoulder, the one that treats everyone else as objects to be arranged for his enjoyment and is going to lash out at the slightest obstacle. I can certainly believe in Mean Addict Cash as depicted here; I'm less convinced by Reformed Cash, especially since the last thing we see him do is appeal to June's consummate stagecraft by holding a live show hostage until she agrees to marry him. Maybe the real man was spontaneous and genuine when he did that; the one we see here looks cold and calculating.

So those are two strikes against it, which is a shame, because the rest of it is pretty good. Phoenix's physical acting is excellent (there's an early moment in which he manages an awkward walk in which one can see the seeds of what will become the swagger), and both he and Witherspoon deliver the songs in a way that's satisfying to someone like me who's heard a lot of the classic performances. Druggie Cash is convincingly wheedling and pretending he's all better now. It's also pleasing to see the treatment of music in an era when "country" wasn't rigidly segmented away from everything else, and when Cash really could casually run into Jerry Lee Lewis or Otis Redding or this Elvis kid.

The film is 136 minutes as released, but never felt long to me. Not brilliant, and I don't suppose I'll rush to watch it again, but I'll listen to the soundtrack.

If you want more of my witterings, you should listen to Ribbon of Memes.

Tags: film reviews

See also:
My Darling Vivian (2020)

Add A Comment

Your Name
Your Email
Your Comment

Your submission will be ignored if any field is left blank, but your email address will not be displayed. Comments will be processed through markdown.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2022 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1