Sunday, March 8, 2009

Walk the Line

'Marry me, June.'
'Oh please, get up off your knees, you look pathetic.'

I've seen Walk the Line a million times and still get sucked in and completely invested with each viewing. I had a long (but lovely) day at the art fairs and stuck this movie in when I got home to clear my head and fall into another world. It worked. Katie and I took turns exclaiming our love for June Carter and her enviable sixties wardrobe and groaning as Johnny took another handful of pills before crashing into something terrible. We love this film.

The music comforts me and reminds me of my summers spent in the Ozark Mountains where crickets scream at nightfall. I never listen to country music but I love good bluegrass for that very reason--- it feels like a place, like a memory. I also have never cared much for Johnny Cash (sorry) but Holly and I learned every word to this film when it first came out. We tried to listen to Johnny and June but kept going back to Joaquin and Reese. And yes, even I judge us for that.

That said, the blending of music and dialogue is seamless and quite important. We understand the performance as just that, but also feel the pulsing emotion behind each word. It's stressful for most of the movie because, well, Johnny Cash couldn't walk a line.

While the film is essentially about Johnny Cash, its June who pulls us in. Reese Witherspoon won the Oscar for this role and rightly so. Joaquin is also phenomenal as Mr. Cash (And while we're on it, what is going on with him right now?! Anyone?! Crazy bearded man!? Wowza.) and the two are completely believable as static forces intertwined with strength and necessary pull.

June holds more strength and poise than any female character I've encountered in a long time. She isn't perfect, in fact her flaws are many and her mistakes epic. But June faces her life and its difficulties with absolute presence and honesty. There are no excuses, she casts no blame. Watch her with Johnny when he first tries to kiss her. Note her words in the market when faced with cruel criticism. Pay attention to her reaction to Johnny's demise and her strength when he needs her most. She looks everything and everyone straight in the eye and loves with the biggest of hearts so very effortlessly.

If I ever have a little girl I'm going to point her towards June Carter in terms of learning crucial lessons of grace, acceptance, forgiveness, and above all, love. Not romantic love, but human love (I wish for the umpteenth time that we had as many words for love as the Greeks do).

Ginnifer Goodwin, on the other hand, again plays a heinous female character whom no one should ever look up to. Yes, she was right in many (most!) aspects but her handling of conflict is what she got so terribly wrong. I could go on about this, but as my sister Laura would say when faced with someone really awful... I'm just glad I'm not her.

Walk the Line is a great film. A gorgeous, thoughtful, and important film. It's a world to fall into and a wonderful escape from all things city. As I lay here, in my bed in Brooklyn way past my bedtime, I can almost hear the crickets screaming their harsh summer songs.

We got married in a fever
Hotter than a pepper sprout
We've been talkin' 'bout Jackson
Ever since the fire went out
I'm goin' to Jackson, I'm gonna mess around
Yeah, I'm goin' to Jackson, look out Jackson town...

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