Walk the Line

If we watch a fictional film about people whose lives or careers we have followed, it can be hard to detach the fact from the fiction. In a sense we need to choose between the real people and the characters. At least I do.

So, after watching Walk the Line, I prefer to think of Johnny Cash and June Carter as the film characters rather than as the people. I suppose that’s because I am a storyteller and most always prefer stories to real life. After all, stories strip away the seemingly irrelevant and minimize the tangential and thereby bring clarity and meaning to the often impenetrable complexity of life.

Walk the Line is a story told a million times before, of a character’s descent into misery and degradation and redemption in the person of a savior in whose goodness the character chooses to follow. An archetypal Christian redemption story. Which, when well told, in a sense makes it even truer than uncensored life.

And in this case, it’s exceptionally well told and brilliantly acted. I sincerely agree with reviewer Michael Sragow: “What [Joaquin] Phoenix and [Reese] Witherspoon accomplish in this movie is transcendent.”


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