Walk The Line (DVD)

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Walk The Line (DVD)

Primarily the story of the love that grew between country stars Johnny Cash and June Carter during the early years of Cash's career, WALK THE LINE is ...

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Review of "Walk The Line (DVD)"

published 22/08/2006 | CaptainDisaster
Member since : 18/12/2000
Reviews : 210
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Super
Pro Phoenix, Witherspoon, most things about the movie...
Cons ... I think it just needed to lighten up a little from time to time
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Characters / Performances
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"Where was the boy named Sue?!?!?"

FILM-ONLY REVIEW
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Walk the Line is a biopic about country singer Johnny Cash. His life hit trouble early on, when his brother has a terrible accident and Johnny is, if not quite outright blamed by his father, blamed for being the one who survived who he wasn't the favourite child with apparently most potential. As he goes through life Johnny seems almost a victim of his own talents though he's not averse to seizing opportunities. As he tries to hit the big time he meets and falls for a singer named June Carter. They are married - trouble is, not to each other.

Cash's life is a roller-coaster of success and tragedy, which is most often self-inflicted. As so often is the case with successful musicians, drug addiction plays a major factor in how his problems. He seems to hurt everyone he cares about. The downward tumble takes a long time to reach his lowest ebb in life, but the uphill struggle to regain what he has lost looks like it will take even longer.

The story starts right in the middle of his famous appearance at Folsom Prison, then goes back to his childhood. We revisit Folsom later, having seen just how it becomes such a focal point in his career. Just as a side point there are a few other famous singers of the era depicted in the film, including Jerry Lee Lewis (played by Waylon Payne) and a brief appearance by Elvis Presley (Tyler Hilton).

The film is about triumph over despair and getting a second chance to do things right, but I have to admit that overall I found the majority of the film quite depressing. Fans will be pleased to know that his most famous songs are there (though I was disappointed at the lack of "A Boy Named Sue"!), and as far as I can tell, not being a great fan of either, both Joaqin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, who play Cash and Carter respectively, seem to sound authentic enough. (They both performed all their own singing.) The plot was intense in places but somehow didn't grab my attention as much as the previous year's Ray (the biopic of Ray Charles) did. It was certainly watchable and intriguing, but somehow not compelling.

Singing aside, both Phoenix and Witherspoon's performances were excellent, and there was a really supporting cast with Robert Patrick as Cash senior and Ginnifer Goodwin as Cash's first wife. There weren't many special effects - Walk the Line is a completely character-driven movie and works well as such. The camerawork is clever in places and the sets were well designed. In fact there's very little I could possibly say against this movie as such, but I just felt quite distant from the main characters and thus never quite got involved with what was going on. Also, though I quite like the music in the movie, none of it grabbed me. Somehow I feel that this is a movie that you will enjoy much more if you are already a fan of Johnny Cash and his music. (With it reaching the hallowed position of being voted into IMDB's top 250 films of all time list it certainly must have a lot of fans though, and thus a lot of Johnny Cash fans if my previous supposition is right!) There was a little humour sprinkled in the movie, and to me a little more would have lightened the overall mood a little and made the movie more enjoyable. I think Director James Mangold (Girl, Interrupted) had a definite mood he wanted to create, and that was quite a dark one. It worked in many ways, I just felt that overall the film dragged a little in some places, with the runtime of 136 minutes seeming a touch overlong.

Overall however I thought Walk the Line was a good movie, but not a great one. I recommend you see it anyway, but I recommend it much more if you're a Johnny Cash fan. The rating is 12A (UK) / PG13 (USA) for some brief bad language, thematic material and scenes of drug abuse. (Parents who might be concerned about the drug usage should know that it's consistently depicted in an extremely negative light.) Walk the Line is a good movie, but it just never reached out and grabbed me in the way that Ray did. Still worth watching though.


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Comments on this review

  • Sal4Mike published 15/09/2006
    I loved the film - so must get a copy of it on DVD. I had the priviledge of actually seeing Johnny Cash play in Ipswich in the late 70's he was brilliant. Good review. tc x Sal x
  • Coloneljohn published 28/08/2006
    Nice one, Must look out for this. John
  • missy0303 published 28/08/2006
    I'm looking forward to watching this one.....my mum bought it recently so will borrow her copy rather than buy my own :-)
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Product Information : Walk The Line (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Primarily the story of the love that grew between country stars Johnny Cash and June Carter during the early years of Cash's career, WALK THE LINE is the result of intense collaboration between director James Mangold, co-writer Gill Dennis, Johnny Cash, and June Carter Cash. Though both Cashes died in 2003, they oversaw the script's development for seven years. Mangold and Cash's insistence that the film's stars would actually sing paid off. Witherspoon's singing (as June) is lovely, and Phoenix's contains the raw energy and soul that defined Cash's sound. Even as a child on a cotton farm in Depression-era Arkansas, Cash shows a strong interest in music, escaping from his no-frills life and strict father (Robert Patrick) through hymns and listening to the radio. When his brother dies in a freak accident, young Johnny feels responsible, and worries that he will never live up to his brother's goodness. The film follows Cash through his first marriage with Vivian Cash (Ginnifer Goodwin) and into the early stages of his touring career alongside such musicians as Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, and most importantly, June Carter. As Cash's success grows, so does his relationship with drugs, alcohol, and Carter, putting a strain upon his family life. From his initial audition with Sam Phillips of Sun Records on through his legendary 1968 concert at Folsom Prison, Cash is transformed from a hesitant singer riddled with demons to a man whose uniquely bold style would make music history. WALK THE LINE never attempts to paint a full picture of Cash's prolific career, but instead focuses on the passions that drove his music and on the woman who gave him strength. With magical performances by Witherspoon and Phoenix, a haunting and inspiring American romance is brought beautifully to life.

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