Truth be told, I don’t know much about Johnny Cash and I actually wanted to see Walk the Line more for the “Oscar-worthy” performances of Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. Yes, initially, buzz about the movie peaked my interest more than the man whose life it was about. I heard how Cash’s daughter, Roseanne, walked out of a screening five times (yeah, drama queen) because she disagreed with the movie’s portrayal of her mother, Johnny’s first wife. And I heard how Joaquin checked himself into rehab because portraying a drug addict made him realize that he never wants to go down that road.
But in the end, when it came down to it, I really enjoyed this movie and walked out of the theater with a genuine respect for the man in black and his music.
Yes, the movie was almost three hours long, three hours that seem longer because of the huge span of time the story covers. But at the same time, it jumped from landmark moment to landmark moment in its effort to cover everything in the three-decade-plus period: childhood tragedy to first marriage to period of success and debauchery to falling in love with another woman to drug addiction to rehab…and so forth.
There were lulls but it didn’t drone on, and it helped that Joaquin and Reese have compelling screen presence. Well, they did for me. Can’t speak for the guy sitting next to me who fell asleep a quarter of the movie in.
And the stars sang every note in the movie impressively, both displaying such stage charisma as well–Reese with her scrappy humor and Joaquin with Cash-like, “guitar-as-gun-toting” moves.
Some of the highlights were when Cash went on tour with June Carter, Jerry Lee Lewis and even Elvis Presley. (Presley is apparently the rat bastard who turned Cash onto drugs.) Also, watching the depiction of Johnny’s famous 1968 concert at Folsom Prison, where his journey comes back around full circle, was electric.
For those into ratings, Rottentomatoes.com gave it a So Fresh 81% out of 100.