Walk the Line
For me, the entertainment value of country music ranks right up there with accidentally sticking my hand in a hornet's nest and having a knitting needle plunged through one of my testicles. Simultaneously.
Now, it would be bad enough if I had to sit down for what was essentially two hours of Joaquin Phoenix lip-synching Johnny Cash tunes, but this film makes things even worse. In some horribly misguided effort for realism, both Joaquin Phoenix, who plays Cash, and Reese Witherspoon, who plays June Carter, sing their own songs. Imagine a karaoke night gone all wrong at the Skybar at the Mondrian in Hollywood and you begin to get a feel for this movie.
As far as I can tell, the main thing James ("Identity") Mangold gleaned from last year's "Ray" was that stories about singers overcoming their own personality defects and addictions are in. Joaquin Phoenix obviously learned that playing one of these guys can at least get you an Oscar nomination. Reese Witherspoon probably learned that acting in one of these things might lend new respectability to a career that no longer has much.
"Walk the Line" follows Cash's career, which seems to consist mostly of getting the hots for June Carter and trying to figure out ways to get in her pants for 20 years. There's lots of stuff about Cash developing a singing identity that ultimately peaks with his appearance at Folsom prison. One presumes that the film's beginning in and ultimate return to Folsom prison is meant to underscore that Cash could so easily have ended up there in the capacity of inmate. Too bad the real prisoners in this film were the people in the audience.
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