Sunday, November 27, 2005

Eyes Wide Open

When I first read about the then-upcoming Walk the Line, bio-pic on the late Johnny Cash, I was surprised by the lead casting. I mean, Joaquin Phoenix as Cash? It seemed somehow... impossible.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that Phoenix actually had an almost perfect look to portray the man in black. But the sound? That voice was supposed to pass for Cash’s deep bass? And he wasn’t just expected to talk for the man, he was gonna be singing.

Well, he pulled it off. There’s no risk of mistaking Phoenix vocally for the real thing, but it works even so.
And the look is a whole other story. By the end of the picture, Phoenix handling the guitar as it’s strap slides along his shirt’s black shoulder… It was as though Cash were on the stage.
Then again, my Cash knowledge is at best superficial. A heavyweight Cash fan might have a lot more problems here than I do.

The film itself was beautiful. Better than I had expected.

The story is, probably, somewhat familiar to you. Cash savagely tears apart his life even as he builds a massive music career, then makes his way to a happy ending. Some might categorize it as a standard redemption story, but it happens to be true.
And the handling was magnificent. The timing, the development, the weaving together of hints at song lyrics—everywhere it could have fallen flatly on its face it managed to make something quality instead.

The story is put on the screen with a craftsmanship of deceptive simplicity. Which is exactly what is needed here.
And the scenes in Folsom: Magnificent all the way.

No comments: