I got obsessed with Johnny Cash in early July after he kept coming up on my Willy Nelson Pandora station. I’d go into details, but there aren’t many. I just really love this guy’s voice, intonation, lyrics, music, and good-timey guitar picking. Here’s my favorite video of him live.
A few days into my obsession, I stumbled upon a video rental place’s going out of business sale and bought Walk the Line. And I must say it was an excellent choice! Loved it. The first time I watched it, my roommate was sleeping upstairs, so I had to keep the volume way down and the closed captions on. As you might expect with a movie about music, it was far less good this way. If you’d been entertaining any plans of watching Walk the Line muted, don’t follow through with them. You’ll walk away wondering what all the hype was about.
Good thing I gave it another try because with sound, this movie is super phenomenal! While awards and nominations are not always a reliable indicator of movie quality (ahem), but there’s a reason why this thing won Reese Whitherspoon (as a brunette even! A brunette!) an Oscar and Joaquin Phoenix some lower profile awards! The acting is great, the music is great, the script is pretty good.
I loved the way it drew together Johnny Cash’s relationship with his family – both his parents and his wife and kids – with his faith and his music. Especially how his musical and spiritual journey climaxed and tied together at Folsom Prison. What a guy, that Johnny Cash, what a guy.
Every one came off as very human, too. Even his wife Vivian, played by Ginnifer Goodwin, whose character was nearly as unlikable as her current haircut, you could kind of see where she was coming from. Kind of; any more on her side and we would have probably been too upset with Johnny for all his cheating, drug use, and familial neglect to forgive him in the end. I think the movie did the best it could given the circumstances.
I did feel that the romance needed a little more development. I mean, obviously, Johnny and June were the main characters, and their interactions were the focus of the movie. But I couldn’t figure out why June would ever decide to marry her very needy, dysfunctional friend , except that she didn’t want to disappoint an anxious crowd. Even then, though, it’s not like Johnny hadn’t made a buffoon of himself in front of hundreds of people before. The movie depicted their romance as fairly one sided, with Johnny putting June in a lot of uncomfortable situations. The diner scene was endearing, for sure. And there was the scene where they were fishing that made them seem like decent friends, but lots of the time he was just hitting on her and getting shot down.
Perhaps that’s how their relationship was, though, and June Carter really was a saint who saw potential in a guy who’d seen some hard knocks, made awesome music, loved God, and fought his drug addiction the rest of his life. And I mean fought. Johnny Cash once refused prescription pain pills after heart surgery because he knew he’d be hooked if he even touched the stuff.
Whatever the dynamics of their relationship, these two sure are lovable: