Monday, November 28, 2005

Review: Walk the Line

It's been a very nice long weekend. I ate myself silly, and of course I went to the movies and saw Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash biopic starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. If that movie wasn't on your weekend to-do list, I wholeheartedly encourage you to add it. Now, I admit I liked JR's music before the movie ever came to be, but one of the friends I saw it with probably never heard a Johnny Cash song in her life, and she loved the movie. It really isn't just another Ray, not that being Ray would be a bad thing. This movie was more about the relationship between Johnny and his wife, June Carter Cash, and how they came to be as in love as they were. It's a love story, but it's one that both men and women can enjoy, being at times heartwarming and at other times funny. Even I, who have a heart of stone, got a lump in my throat at the end of the film. I forgot where I was for a couple of hours.

The movie only released this weekend, and already the buzz is all about Oscar. Joaquin is being talked about for his work, and I have to admit he did a fantastic job. He seemed to really nail Cash's struggle between his dark feelings of guilt and remorse, and his love for June. I would expect that he would do a smashing job, considering the reports that he acted like a total princess on the set. According to Entertainment Weekly, who also provided the photos, he insisted on being called JR on the set and carried his guitar on his back all the time. Whatever Joaquin's formula was, it worked for him. He perfectly conveyed Cash's angst through his music. He even got his mannerisms down to a tee. The other notable performance belongs to Reese Witherspoon, who has now officially broken out of the teen flick genre into a world where I'm sure she will be offered her pick of serious roles. I was somewhat sceptical of her ability to carry off this role, but she did so masterfully, even learning the plectrum (that instrument she's holding) to lend credibility to her performance. An Oscar nom is all but guaranteed for her, but I'm not sure that she'll beat out Zhang Ziyi once Memoirs of a Geisha finally hits theaters (not nearly soon enough). I loved Reese's performance, and she deserves to win based solely on the fact that this role was such a departure from her usual fare, but her smile is her downfall. She is the type of woman that has such an unmistakeable, instantly recognizable smile that I was never able to stop thinking, "Wow, Reese looks gorgeous in this film." She can't avoid that, and to her credit she did look great, but much like Jim Carrey, her face is purely hers.

My favorite actress in this film, however, is the longsuffering first wife of Cash, Vivian, played by Ginnifer Goodwin. You may remember Ginny from Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! and Mona Lisa Smile. This woman deserves an Oscar as well, and once you see her fight with, love and cry over Cash, you feel terrible for this woman. It's harder than it sounds, because John and June were truly soulmates, and Vivian was quite nasty when she felt like it. Still, what could have easily become a bit part in a movie about two lovers was given the depth and emotion it deserved. Other Oscar noms could be garnered for Direction, for James Mangold, and costumes. On the whole, this was an excellent film that will leave you dancing on your way out.