Saturday, February 04, 2006

Love.. Is a Burning Thing

So after months of speculation, FINALLY 'Walk the Line' arrived on UK cinema screens today. Beginning at the start of the year with a host of pre-oscar predictions, some of which came off, some of which did not, I was anticipating WTL. Of course, this can be blamed on the Academy's surprising shun to the picture, which makes what I'm about to say all that harder to bear.

I'm sure by now you must know that I adore Reese Witherspoon in every way imaginable. I think she is a total and utter genius, particularly in Election, but also in Freeway, Legally Blonde, and even Sweet Home Alabama. It's very rare to find such a charismatic woman with THIS much on-screen presence. After seeing WTL today I may even build a shrine (yes, I'm serious) so I could bow down to her sheer greatness every night before I go to sleep. This performance is not only the best in its category, it is the best of its year. When RW wins her first (and hopefully not her last) Oscar on Sunday March 5th, I will be so completely overwhelmed. Even if she's married to Ryan Philippe (displays a mixed harbouring of jealousy and puzzlement).

So now onto the film.. lol. Well, after 'Ray' last year, which by the way had absoloutely no place being anywhere near a 'Best Picture' line-up. Fairly horrendous I hope you'll agree. But anyway, yes, like Ray, 'Walk the Line' is about a very famous recently desceased musician with a troubled past. The way it differs from last year's effort though, is a) in it's quality acting of the two leads and b) in it's representation of expectation, by your doting public, by your loving wife, by your parents. WTL is an insight into society and human dilemna as much as it is an insight into Johnny Cash's musical ramblings. Hearing this story of love, friendship, morality is itself like music to the ears.

There is a definite sense in this film that both Carter and Cash undergo an emotional journey of different magnitudes, and in this way is very atypical of your usual biopic. Phoenix gives Cash a glaring humanity, and never overplays, whether he be a drunken rambler, a lovestruck puppy, a rock star, Phoenix is always Johnny Cash. Where the film particularly peaks though, is when he and Witherspoon interact. They connect on a level that typifies the central relationship in the film, driving the thematic boundaries of the film to the limit.

Listening to Cash's music is always a pleasure. Do not for one second imagine me as a Johnny Cash fan lol. I never will be a fan, but there are certain singers whose work is universally accepted, and he is one of them. The decision to let the two leads sing only enhances the film in a way 'Ray' grew distant and dormant. 'Walk the Line' is a triumph, in the sense that writing a song may be more rewarding than singing it. To believe in a song is to believe in what it is saying, and believe me when I say: 'Walk the Line' says all the right things, and believes in them all.

Grade: B+

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