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Walk the Line (Widescreen Edition) (2005)

Drama and Music Video & Concerts movie directed by James Mangold

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A different kind of love story

  • Feb 3, 2007
  • by
Rating:
+3
We missed this movie in the theater, and it finally popped up to the top in our netflix queue, a bit like cream rising to the top of the milk churn. This is an extremely well done biopic, that limits itself to the early career of Johnny Cash's life. The script is almost a little too clever, or perhaps the source material--Cash's own autobiographies--made things a little too clear, in that sometimes the connections between his actions and his childhood are so strong that it's like the screenwriter went in with a highlighter and marked the passages for you. For example, Cash and his brother go fishing in the first five minutes, and as they walk down the dirt road they run forward and slide in the dirt as well as balance the fishing poles in the palms of their hand. Later, when Cash leaves home to join the army, his joy in finally escaping the harsh confines of his father's house is shown by him running and sliding in the dirt, and then even later in the film he and June Carter go fishing, you see him balancing the pole in his hand, an indication of how much joy this is bringing him.

While almost distracting, such clear connections don't get in the way of the story, and the screenwriters have done a great job in concentrating on the love story between Cash and Carter. Everything in this movie builds to that, showing exactly why Cash was a boozer and an addict, the struggle between his success and his first wife, and how the music connected him to Carter, who had her own issues as the scion of country music's first family. Both Phoenix and Witherspoon are wonderfully understated in their portrayals, especially in the darker sections which has to be one of the better representations on screen of drug and alcohol addiction.

What's somewhat missing, although implied in several scenes, is a depiction of Cash and Carter's religious faith. The DVD contains some of the scenes that hit the cutting room floor and it looks like much of the more overt religious parts were excised in the final version, likely because they didn't feed as much into the courting part of their relationship and was more part of their lasting love for each other. If anything, this movie leaves you wanting more, to see a more complete life of Cash, and if anything, that's a triumph in itself.

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More Walk the Line (2005) reviews
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Very strong acting performances by the leads. I wish there was a second part of the film that lead up to the passing of both of June and Johnny.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Phenomenal film with phenomenal acting. This is a must-see. Awesome music, heart wrenching drama centered on the human condition, and totally characters you'll fall in love with. As a general rule, I find that true stories make for terrible films... writers seem to get lazy and rely too much on the elements of the true story without adapting it to make for a compelling film (i.e. The Blind Side). Not at all the case here though. Prepare to cry ; )
review by . May 30, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Stars Phoenix and Witherspoon are the movie. Their performances are top-drawer as, surprisingly, is their singing. Phoenix worked hard to master the tics and idiosyncracies of Johnny Cash. In fact, having seen Cash in concert on several occasions, I occasionally felt that some of the signature gestures, such as the pout and guitar slinging were a bit overdone.     The storyline wasn't all that engrossing. Too much emphasis for me on a few selected episodes from Cash's life and …
review by . September 26, 2006
"Walk The Line" is supposed to be about the ups and downs of one John R. Cash, but in actuality, it's three stories in one. The first story is that of Johnny Cash, who grew up in Arkansas a poor farmer's son. His father was hard on him and even cruel when Johnny's older brother passes in an accident. As Johnny gets older, he pursues a career in music. His first big break comes at the hands of none other than Sam Phillips. You know him for his many acts which include the King, the Killer, and the …
review by . May 22, 2006
This past weekend I was able to watch this film and Joaquin Phoenix wears Johnny Cash like a suit. He isn't doing a Rich Little impersonation, you don't rub your eyes in disbelief, but he channels a man so distinct in appearance and voice to a level that is beyond admirable. One of the traits that made Johnny Cash a legend was that nobody sounded or looked like him. Short of a computer generated Cash walking around in his own bio-pic like one of those John Wayne beer commercials this is the definitive …
review by . May 21, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
"Walk the Line" isn't just an admirable improvisation; it is a great movie. Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) and June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) live out the classic love story. He is in love with her, but she is usually unavailable or uninterested. There are other fascinating storylines available, too. The movie illuminates his difficult childhood with his brother's tragedy and his father's abuse. We also feel the anguish of an artist before he becomes famous. He must start with an unfulfilling marriage …
review by . March 02, 2006
Rarely has a biopic film made such a racket at the box office. After viewing the DVD version of WALK THE LINE the reasons for that success must be attached to some sort of homage to Johnny Cash, an American icon of sorts. Yes, his life and career are notable - the emergence of a legendary Country Western singer out of the elements of a warped childhood peaked by the accidental death of his older brother whom the father clearly preferred, and the torture of self doubt that haunted a man through an …
review by . December 02, 2005
Pros: acting, costumes, music     Cons: formulaic, a little cheesy     The Bottom Line: The bottom line shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.     When creating a biopic of someone who lived a long, tumultuous life, filmmakers often have difficulty choosing where to focus their attention. Trying to find a balance between illustrating the protagonist’s formative years, struggles to gain recognition, destructive behaviors, and adult …
review by . November 17, 2005
Pros: Phoenix, Witherspoon, and a great story.     Cons: None     The Bottom Line: A true classic and easy Oscar favorite.     Condensing something as vast and complex as the life of a person into a film is often a daunting task. With so many events that comprise the span of an individual, knowing what to cover and what to omit is a daunting task for any writer. For an icon like Johnny Cash, this task becomes monumental as not only does …
About the reviewer
Glen Engel-Cox ()
Ranked #334
Glen is a forty-something communications professional living near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He grew up in Texas and has also lived inLos Angeles, Colorado, Washington State, and Washington, DC. Glen also … more
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A solid and entertaining biopic,Walk the Lineworks less as a movie than an actors' showcase for its stars. Joaquin Phoenix's total immersion into the skin of singer Johnny Cash is startling--watching it, you can't believe this is the same guy who whined about being "vexed" inGladiator. As he evolves from a farm boy to gospel croonin' plunker to the Man in Black, Phoenix disappears into Cash's deep baritone, his way of slinging the guitar onto his back, and his hunched-up style of strumming. But it's more than just picking up mannerisms: Phoenix also sings as Johnny Cash, and it's quite impressive.

The story of how Johnny Cash became Johnny Cash traces from his childhood under a distant father (Robert Patrick) to his early attempts at a music career, during which he married his girlfriend Vivian (Ginnifer Goodwin). During a tour with the likes of Elvis (Tyler Hilton) and Jerry Lee Lewis (Waylon Malloy Payne), he encounters singer June Carter (Reese Witherspoon), and his love for her--and her rejection of him through the years--spurs him into drugs, drinking, and depression. As with most movies based on real-life singers, as his popularity grows, the women come a-flockin', and the childhood demons surface. Witherspoon, who matches Phoenix drawl for drawl, plays June both as a sassy spitfire whose charm breaks your heart, and as a sympathetic friend who tries to help Cash get over--well, her. The love story is what endures, but the ...

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Details

Director: James Mangold
Genre: Drama, Music, Musical
DVD Release Date: February 28, 2006
Runtime: 136 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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