If you haven’t seen it, Walk the Line, is a phenomenal movie. It’s nine years old now, which makes it dead and mummified in movie years, but it is so good. The story and the characters are so good.
It tells the story of Johnny Cash during his younger years and how he fell in love with June Carter. It’s a love story, but not a happy one. Both Johnny and June suffered failed marriages, Johnny was addicted to prescription pills and alcohol, and a recurring, painful theme is his persistent guilt over the death of his brother, Jack, and inability to please his dad. Even in the midst of all this sadness, though, there is redemption and restoration. It is a story of two people making a series of very wrong turns on the way to learning real love, sacrifice, and commitment.
And the music! Juaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon play Johnny and June and they do all their own singing. It is remarkable if you don’t enjoy the brand of music, and beautiful if you do. As you watch the back story to some of their most famous songs like, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Ring of Fire”, and “I Walk the Line” the already magnetic music gains new life and depth. The soundtrack is fantastic, and it’s even better when enjoyed next to the real Johnny and June singing their duets (one of my favorite albums).
The best thing about Walk the Line isn’t the acting, although that’s top notch, and it isn’t the soundtrack. It’s the realness. I’m not sure that’s the best word, but here’s what I mean. Stories of growth, change, redemption, and love are never as pretty and clean as romantic comedies make them look and sinful decisions hurt more than hollywood cares to admit. But this isn’t mere Hollywood; it’s a story of a real man and woman making real hurtful decisions and being really changed. I don’t re-watch too many movies, but I pull Walk the Line every few months because the story is just that powerful. If you’ve seen it, watch it again. If you’ve never seen it you ought to. It doesn’t matter if you know anything about Johnny Cash or like hymn; all you need to do is like a great story.