Best Actress Oscar: Reese Witherspoon
Walk the Line
A Review by Tom Condon, OP
(St. Martin Province)
Genre: Drama, Musical/Performing Arts and Biopic
Running Time: 2 hrs. 15 min.
Release Date: November 18th, 2005 (wide)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language, thematic material and depiction
of drug dependency.
A chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash's life,
from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to
fame with Sun Records in Memphis, where he recorded alongside
Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.
In many ways, this
film biography of Johnny Cash is pretty standard.
The story of a famous artist who grows up in poverty, finds comfort
in his music, overcomes obstacles, deals with addictions to drugs
or alcohol, has been told before. Didn’t we see much of
this about a year ago in Ray?
just like Jamie Foxx astonished everyone with his fantastic performance
as Ray Charles, Joaquin Phoenix is equally amazing as Johnny Cash.
When he gets on stage, slings his guitar strap over his shoulder,
curls his lip and drawls into the microphone, something extraordinary
happens. He becomes Johnny Cash. Remarkably, he even does his
Reese Witherspoon also gives a fine performance
as June Carter. Likewise, she does her own singing. But it’s
It’s as if Phoenix disappears and Cash appears, in some
kind of trick special effect. It’s even more amazing in
that Phoenix does his own singing. In contrast, Ray Charles’
voice was dubbed in Ray. I don’t mean to diminish Fox’s
acclaimed performance. It is to contrast Phoenix’s accomplishment.
There are a couple of nice scenes offstage early
in the film: Johnny seeing Sun Studios and meeting Sam Phillips.
Johnny talking to June the first time in a diner. I have to confess
that I enjoyed the scenes of my home town, Memphis. But, like
a good performer, the movie lives for the stage. The rest seems
A good moment for preachers: When
Johnny and his brother are boys, his brother tells Johnny that
he wants to be a preacher when he grows up. So he spends a lot
of time reading the Bible. “When someone comes to you for
help, you’ve got to know what story to tell them!”
Tom Condon, OP