05 May 2007

a film we actually enjoyed (and other strange things)

saw Walk the Line last night, finally, after waiting until we had a worthy sound/tv set up, which, well, we do now. Again with the flashback framing, which was not super annoying but at this point my bar is pretty high for the use of the flashback. you better have an incredibly good reason to use it, and most of the time you don't. that aside, the film was a nice change. I'm not a biopic fan--perhaps it was an overdose of VH1 behind the music in the mid-90s. But this one manages to do the spiral into drugs rehab narrative a bit differently--not that there's not a spiral into drugs/withdrawal narrative going on here, and not that the parallel love narrative doesn't in the end produce/enable the redemption/rehab. It's that the story is told differently: she doesn't 'save' him by giving herself to him (although she does) it's that he saves himself with her help, she sees that, and they work as a pair. a nice representation of relationships, I thought.

Plus, there's a queerness represented through the early history of the woman-as-rockstar identity that Reese Witherspoon's brilliant acting makes completely clear. Particularly in the context of the blues/gospel heritage that these early musicians were so reliant on, the Christian thread running throughout the film is nicely handled. June Carter's very public living of her life, divorcing at a time when that was considered utterly taboo, and living her relationships partly on-stage--we see all of that in the film, plus her space within the group of guys (Elvis, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash etc.) that shows how strange and out-of-sync her life is with the world's expectations at the time. Or even now: how many people would think it's okay for mothers to spend weeks and weeks away from your children while on tour? Completely 'not acceptable'--Witherspoon gives us June Carter's strength as someone who does do this and yet still remains a 'good mother' to her children.

I guess for me the film was about June Carter. If you haven't seen it definitely worth watching.

3 comments:

fronesis said...

Just so no one draws the conclusion that I am the negative one, let me say that I was going to post almost the same blog entry, but Rebecca beat me to it. I would only add: you expect this movie to be a chance for Mr. Phoenix to blow you away with his portrayal of the man in Black. And his acting is outstanding. But Reese Witherspoon completely steals the show; it is HER movie. 9 times out of 10 I am utterly disappointed with the Oscars' choice for best actor/actress, but this time they definitely got it right.

Jack said...

But, do you actually listen to the Man in Black? I must confess to not seeing him on your itunes list when I last parused your computer, oh a few years ago...

His covers on Americ V are fantastic. The cover of NIN "Hurt" is far better than the original.

Rebecca said...

I'm not saying that the Man in Black isn't a great musician or that he doesn't do some awesome covers. This is about the film--and it does show him in a positive, complicated light as someone who was and always has been a bit different than the rest in terms of his direction/sound. Which is all good. I just think the film is about June Carter--or that she steals the show from the Man, and makes the film much more interesting.