Walk The Line

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The ViewWellington Review

Review byMatthew Turner28/10/2005

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 137 mins

Opens London Film Festival: 27th October

Impressively directed by James Mangold, this is a superb biopic that features terrific performances from both Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.

The Background
Last year’s biopic of Ray Charles (Ray) was a big hit at the London Film Festival and went on to win an Oscar for Jamie Foxx. If there’s any justice in the world, the same fate will befall Walk the Line, James Mangold’s superb biopic of Johnny Cash.

The Story
Walk The Line stars Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and deals with the first half of his tumultuous life, from his childhood on a Mississippi cotton farm (and the gruesome death of his older brother, Jack), through the recording of his first track for Sam Phillips in 1955 and up to the recording of the At Folsom Prison album in 1968.

Along the way, he messes up his first marriage (touring, booze and drugs) and falls hard for fellow singer and entertainer June Carter (Reese Witherspoon).

The Good
A decent biopic stands or falls on the quality of its performances and luckily, Walk the Line has two of the best performances of the year. Joaquin Phoenix is mesmerising as Johnny Cash, particularly when he’s on stage.

Phoenix is equally matched by Reese Witherspoon, who gives a career-best performance as June Carter that will surely net her an Oscar nomination. Reese is adorable throughout and there’s genuine chemistry between her and Phoenix, particularly when they’re on stage together. In addition, Phoenix and Witherspoon sang all their numbers and Witherspoon in particular turns out to be a terrific singer.

The Great
Mangold’s direction is solid and reliable throughout and it’s worth noting that the film resists the temptation to sentimentalise, something that could not be said for Ray. Similarly, Mangold doesn’t resort to cinematic depictions of Cash’s drug abuse – we see how badly it affects him, but the film is mercifully free of hallucination sequences and other similar clichés.

The Conclusion In short, Walk the Line is a hugely enjoyable biopic, with superb music sequences and career-best performances from Phoenix and Witherspoon. Unmissable.

Film Trailer

Walk The Line
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Content updated: 18/12/2018 23:26

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