Directed by: JAMES MANGOLD
Starring: JOAQUIN PHOENIX, REESE WITHERSPOON,
ROBERT PATRICK, GINNIFER GOODWIN, DALLAS ROBERTS,
TYLER HILTON, SHOOTER JENNINGS
Released by: 20th Century
Short: This wonderfully realized biography
of singer-songwriter Johnny Cash follows his
early life, rise to stardom, and romance with
June Carter, and is sure to be on the short
list for Best Picture Oscar glory.
Johnny Cash and June Carter Gloriously
the Line" is a great film. A tumultuous, fast-paced
ride through the first half of Johnny Cash's legendary
life, this is a movie to love on many levels. Much like
last year's "Ray," the film is an unflinching
look at how Cash's life started out unhappily, soared
to great heights and was almost shattered by his addiction
to drugs (in his case, amphetamines). And, as with "Ray,"
in "Walk the Line" the actor who takes on the
challenge of bringing an American musical icon to life
just nails it. Joaquin Phoenix actually takes it one notch
higher than Jamie Foxx did as Ray Charles, however, for
Phoenix not only seems to channel the essence of Johnny
Cash, he also sings all the songs that made Cash so famous.
It's a stunning performance, and one that is bound to
win him at least a Best Oscar nomination, if not a win.
"Ray," this film is a two-hander, for the story
of Johnny Cash cannot be told without his lifelong love,
June Carter, as an integral element. Actress Reese Witherspoon—quite
changed as a brunette instead of her usual blonde—also
gives the performance of a lifetime as the perky country
singer whose life is irrevocably changed when she meets
the Man in Black. She, too, sings all of Carter's music
herself, and will undoubtedly have shelves filled with
awards by the time the Oscars roll around.
Cash-Carter story isn't always a pretty one, and that
is exactly what makes this such a compelling film. It
took them a long time to finally end up as a couple, as
both were married to other people when they met, touring
the South with the likes of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis
and Carl Perkins (all characters in the film). That, plus
Johnny's personal demons that drove him to drugs kept
them at arm's length for a very long time, while June
did her best to deny the obvious chemistry that existed
between them from the moment they met.
James Mangold has deftly blended the couple's intensely
personal story with many moments of top-notch musical
sequences. He's created a film that will undoubtedly become
a classic, and that may just take the "Walk"
to the podium when the Best Picture Academy Award is handed
out. Don't miss it.