Patrick McGinlay's Internet Tendency

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FEBRUARY 2, 2006

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There is every chance I could have walked out of Walk the Line and loved it just because of the subject matter, the fact that it was a pretty darn good film was a terrific bonus. Joaquin Phoenix's Johnny Cash is seamless, he goes from a young man with wholesome Christian values to a man lolling at the depths of addiction, to a man fighting his way through the painful sweats and psychotic lows of withdrawal to a success just like he'd been through all of it himself.

As I was driving to the screening I was trying to work out what I expected from the film. What were they going to leave out? What were they going to include? To the filmmakers credit, they made a well rounded film. We all know Johnny Cash is a hero, we all know he stood up for what he believed in, we all know he was given to saying "Fuck You" but not all of us know about his upbringing and about all the lows amidst the highs.

It would have been quite easy to make a puff piece, painting Cash in gold, a feature film that just kisses arse to the Cash legacy, but the story told in Walk the Line shows us all sides of Cash's life, it shows us all his struggles, it paints a rounded picture of Cash, his struggles with family life, his struggles with fame and his struggles with life in general. The fact that he managed to rise above all this is what makes him a hero.

I suppose it make sense that the film is made that way, it is as real as Cash's music which doesn't describe the unrealistic or the grandiose but rather focuses on reality, on things that could have happened to anyone, stories of prisoners, of hitchhikers, of cowboys, of real people. Walk the Line is real film about real events that happened to real people.

For those of you that are Cash fans, you'll love it, if only because you get to hear Phoenix's approximation of that voice, and if you are in the right mood it will affect you in the exact same way. For those of you that aren't Cash fans (which I don't understand, but to each their own) it is still worth seeing, its got something for everyone, human drama, a love story and a plot that is gripping enough that you will watch it even if you know what's going to happen.

The music is pretty good too.

WALK THE LINE stars Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. It is rated M and runs 130 minutes. It is currently in cinemas.


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