A Glass of Chianti

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Can I get something off my chest?

Actually, I guess the more accurate question is "Will you listen to me get something off my chest?" as it is my place and all.

Walk the Line kind of bothered me.

They clearly spent a lot of time getting the music right. Reece Witherspoon succeeded in not annoying the heck out of me*. Her voice was exceptionally clear and very pretty. Actually, the performances across the board were quite nice. And yet, even with very nice acting and music, the movie just falls flat.

There is a particularly nice Thanksgiving scene late-ish in the movie. In it, Mother Maybelle asks John's mother if she learned to sing by the hymnal. She says that lots of singers don't know how to read shape notes anymore and thinks it's a shame. The problem is that she's the character I wanted to know more about. She's the only one around the table who seemed real. That was the problem. I cared more about a character with half a dozen lines than I do about the man at the center of the movie.

I don't know how the movie got there. Maybe it was the conventional handling of the drug scenes. (Quick, what percentage of movies that include drug use include a scene in a bathroom where there is a violent outburst? When you're shown a shot of a bathroom, don't we all know that it will end with the sink being pulled from the wall? Do we really need to see it again?) Maybe it was the fact that the Cash father, important enough to bring back for big plot points, wasn't important enough to develop into anything but a one-dimensional abusive and raving lunatic. Maybe it was the fact that we hear pedestrian selections from the Johnny Cash canon. (I mean, if you're going to expend that much energy to make it sound right, why not select things that drive the story?)

It wasn't terrible, but it certainly wasn't an interesting movie. It wasn't telling an interesting story and it wasn't doing it in an interesting way. With each new biopic I see, I become more and more glad that I'm an unexceptional person. Because I'm pretty average in every way, my grandchildren won't have to sit through a boring movie about what I did as opposed to what I was all about.

*Sorry, Jamie. I know she's a pet interest of yours. Looking at her generally makes my face hurt for some reason.