WALK THE LINE
Over the Line?
Release Date: November 18, 2005
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese
Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin,
and Robert Patrick
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 136 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: James Mangold
Executive Producer: John Carter Cash and Alan C.
Producer: Cathy Konrad and James Keach
Writer: Gil Dennis and James Mangold
Address Comments To:Rupert Murdoch
Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos, Chairmen
Fox Filmed Entertainment
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
A division of Fox, Inc. and News Corp.
10201 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-1000
WALK THE LINE begins well by telling the tragic story of Johnny Cash's brother, a serious Bible student who dies after a tragic accident with a saw. Johnny feels guilty about his older brother's death. The admonishments of his strict father, who criticizes Johnny's interest in country music, don't help.
In the army overseas, Johnny begins writing songs in earnest. After his service, he takes his wife, Vivian, and daughter to Memphis. Despite the admonishments of his nagging wife to get a real job, Cash pursues his music career until he hits it big with Sun Records with his early hits "Cry, Cry, Cry" and "Get Rhythm." He and his band go on tour with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and June Carter of the famous Carter Family.
Cash easily falls for June. Though June rebuffs him because they're both married, his wife Vivian's nagging drives him further away. June continues to rebuff him even after she gets a divorce, and Cash's addiction for amphetamines threatens to kill him. Cash's marriage finally breaks up, but his addiction continues. Only June's love and friendship can save him from himself.
After a shaky start, Joaquin Phoenix does a great job of capturing Johnny Cash's stage presence. The chemistry between him and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter is good, though it's not as powerful as some have advertised. Part of the problem may be the movie's episodic structure. Even so, Johnny and June's sizzling rendition of "Jackson" comes off here as pretty limp.
Except for a scene where June takes him to church, WALK THE LINE shies away from portraying how she led Cash to Christ. Instead, the movie focuses on showing how June and her family helped Johnny get over his amphetamine addiction at his country home by keeping him away from the drugs. In addition to drug addiction, adultery and rebellion play a major role in the movie. Although Cash kicks his amphetamine habit, he sings joyously about taking cocaine during his classic performance at Folsom Prison.
WALK THE LINE, a biography of country music legend Johnny Cash, begins by telling the tragic death of Johnny Cash's older brother. Johnny feels guilty about his brother's death. His father's criticisms don't help. After serving in the army, Cash takes his wife and daughter to Memphis. Despite the admonishments of his nagging wife to get a real job, Cash pursues his music career until he hits it big with Sun Records. Cash tours with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and June Carter of the famous Carter Family. Cash easily falls in love with June, but his marriage and addiction for amphetamines push June away. After his divorce, only June's love can save him from himself.
WALK THE LINE tones down the Christian elements in Cash's story to concentrate on his image as a troubled rebel. Drug addiction and adultery also play a major role. After a shaky start, Joaquin Phoenix does a great job of capturing Cash's stage presence. The chemistry between him and Reese Witherspoon as June is good, though not as powerful as advertised. For example, Johnny and June's sizzling rendition of "Jackson" comes off here as pretty limp.