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[cmkaapjes] Keep your cash in your pocket

The genre of biopics is not one that has given us many memorable titles, at least not many come to mind: Lawrence of Arabia, Patton, Bird seem to be happy exceptions. I always hope a picture will exceed my expectations, but in the case of the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the line this sadly did not happen. Though Johnny Cash's life was interesting enough, the makers of the movie concentrated solely on the lovestory between him and June Carter. The result: a sappy run-of-the-mill love story with a great soundtrack.

Joaquin Phoenix tried hard to mimic Johnny Cash's voice and movements, and though he's not a great actor, succeeded well enough. The screenplay however, lacks in originality and nowhere in the story we get a clear picture of the man Johnny Cash. We only get clues in the form of the death of his brother and his relationship with his father. But American Christian morality is poured over it like a thick nauseating gravy, so that we're never sure about his true feelings. I suspect he hated the man that put him down like that, but honouring ones parents seems to be the prevailing sentiment. June Carter is portrayed as a prom-queen goody-two-shoes, and we get absolutely no idea why she puts up with the pill-popping rock star Cash.
The movie starts out promising with a glimpse of the famous Fulsom-prison show. Then we're treated to the obligatory flash-backs of his youth, the obligatory flash-backs of his early tours with the likes of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison. This part of the movie is quite enjoyable though, mainly because of the many musical scenes. These scenes seem to be for name-dropping purposes mainly and do little to speed the story forward. The name dropping reaches its height with Cash's friend Waylon Jennings being featured in two scenes, without the audience once being told who this long-haired guitar-toting guy is, or what his relationship with Johnny is. Cash's friendship with Bob Dylan is also hinted at, but never plays a role anywhere.
When due to his addiction to amphetamines the touring comes to an end, so does whatever momentum the movie had. I was very glad my friend had brought a small bottle of scotch to the theatre. It was the only thing keeping me going through the long and tedious scenes of Reese Whitherspoon (who could do with an extra couple of pounds in my book) getting Cash to give up his addiction. After a grueling half hour of family-oriented scenes he beats his addiction and we get on with the show. Thankfully the soundtrack picks up here to guide us through the last romantic scenes.

I was very surprised to see that rottentomatoes gives it a fresh rating of 83%. Apart from it being about Johnny Cash, and thus having a good soundtrack, it really is a mediocre lovestory at best. No doubt it'll do great at the Oscars...

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 16, 2006 1:18 PM.

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