Reviewed by Humby:

With WALK THE LINE, director James Mangold tells the story of Johnny Cash… the music that made him, the woman that saved him, and the thin line he walked between legend and destruction. This movie is an early favorite for Oscars this year and I can see why. It is very similar to RAY, which garnered multiple nominations last year. The movie is good, the performances are great, the music is fantastic… what's not to like?

Mangold tells the story well, but in a straightforward and safe style, and that’s my biggest problem. I have seen many movies about famous people and most of them are the same. The structure is very plain. It starts at a concert and flashes back to a traumatic event that shaped Cash, and then tells his life story until it catches back up to where the movie began. There is nothing wrong with that; it is just what I have seen many times before. The pace of the movie is a little slow in the middle and could be trimmed from its 2 hour and 15 minute running time. Also like RAY, the movie’s technical qualities are superb. The costumes are great, the art direction good and the photography is beautiful. Now on to what most people will talk about when this movie comes up in conversation… the performances.
When I went into the movie, I was skeptical at best when it came to both Joaquin Phoenix as Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter. I will start by saying that I was WRONG… Both actors give great performances and will most definitely receive tons of attention for their work here. Both actors do ALL of their own singing. Bad idea? Actually, no. While Phoenix doesn’t sound exactly like Cash, he sounds really close and really good, as does Witherspoon.

But there is more to acting than the singing… Phoenix is really strong here. It is a shame that this movie comes out a year after Jamie Foxx became Ray Charles. Phoenix PLAYS Johnny Cash, Foxx BECAME Ray Charles. This is the greatest performance that Phoenix has ever given and it will not be received as well as it should be for that reason. Johnny Cash was a very deep and emotionally complicated man and Phoenix captures that extremely well in the film.

In my opinion, Reese has only been better once before this (ELECTION). June Carter was Cash’s salvation in life, the reason why he stopped ruining his life through substance abuse. She is a strong and independent woman that was ahead of her time. I am not as familiar with June Carter, so I was able to forget that it was Reece for most of the film. Without both of these actors really pulling off these parts, the movie would have been a failure. Luckily, they do a great job.


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