‘Walk the Line’: Music, Addiction, and Forbidden Love

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Julia Wilson

For today’s Time Warp Tuesday, we will be taking a look at one of the greatest musical biopics of all time (and my favorite film) Walk the Line.

The film follows the ‘Man in Black’ musician, Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix), and his musical career. Along the way, he finds love in his childhood crush and longtime singing partner June Carter Cash (Reese Witherspoon) but with the highs comes the lows. The audience is exposed to Johnny’s demons and faults. We learn about his battle with drugs and alcohol and his affair with June despite being married to his wife Vivian (Ginnifer Goodwin). He suddenly becomes his own villain and becomes stuck in a cycle of addiction and infidelity.

Walk the Line went on to win multiple awards including Best Actress at the Academy Awards. What made this film so great was, in fact, the acting. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon quite literally embodied the souls of Johnny and June Cash. It’s almost like watching a documentary of the famous duo because of the actors’ nearly identical performances. When someone, with hardly any musical experience, can replicate every voice inflection, facial expression, and body movement of a famous musician’s performance then I think it goes without saying that they deserve the highest praise possible.

Along with the musical talent they possess, Phoenix and Witherspoon’s chemistry is both undeniable and honest. Johnny and June had an intense bond that caused him to lose control and hurt June and Johnny’s wife Vivian in the process. This flawed love story is portrayed with the same fierceness it possessed without watering down the moral imperfections. It isn’t the ideal romance that you see in most films, but this also is not a romance – it’s a drama. And that genre leaves all of the ugly parts in.

One of those ugly parts is Johnny’s drug addiction, and the performance that Phoenix gives is too good to not give an Oscar to. As I said before, Johnny becomes the villain in a story where he was the protagonist and his rehabilitation isn’t a pretty one. But Phoenix’s transition between all of them were nearly flawless, and he was able to portray one’s real experience of addiction. He showed the dark side of a man who was once on the top of the mountain and suddenly fell into his own personal hell. (I’m sure you thought I’d make a ‘Ring of Fire’ pun, but that’d be way out of context)

Walk the Line is one of those movies that will never leave your mind after one watch and questions whether fame and fortune is worth the hurt.

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‘6 Balloons’ and its Unexpected Greatness

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Therese Gardner

As we all know, Netflix is the new outlet for films that may not have gotten the attention it needed. It’s great because when they slap that well known label on it then people are guaranteed to come across it. Not only are these stories given a bigger platform but, actors are given roles beyond being typecast in the same role. This is the case with the new Netflix drama, 6 Balloons.

When Katie (Abbi Jacobsen) attempts to throw a birthday party for her boyfriend, she’s disrupted by her heroin-addicted brother, Seth (Dave Franco), who is in need of a detox center. The two take an overwhelming journey around the city while also dealing with his toddler daughter.

The plot is as simple as any other film- simpler than most addiction-based films. But instead of it being in the perspective of the addicted, it’s in the perspective of the enabler. Katie’s life revolves around her brother’s issues as she takes him to detox and rehab centers only for him to relapse. She then ends up buying him drugs to help with his pain even though she knows he won’t actually get better. It’s a complex story with complex characters that you don’t normally see in cinema – even if these people exist in real life.

6 Balloons is strong in not only the plot, but also the acting. It’s headed by actors who are normally found in the genre of comedy. Broad City’s Abbi Jacobsen and The Disaster Artist’s Dave Franco are surprisingly successful in bringing these characters to life in the most authentic way. They’re the performances that we’ve always wanted from Franco and never expected from Jacobsen.

Franco doesn’t shy away from showing the glaring and harsh realities of being an addict who needs to stay high just to survive while Jacobsen gives us a spoonful of the truth and what the difference is between caring for someone and letting them continue their destructive habits. Not only were these roles a little daring but they were the perfect start for these actors to branch out and gain more recognition for their true range of talent.

6 Balloons is a powerful indie drama with actors that prove themselves to their regular audience and fans and a story that is just as gripping and meaningful as the movies on the bigger silver screen.


My Rating: 81%

Acting: 3.5/4

Cinematography: 3/4

Story: 3.5/4

Enjoyability: 3/4