Charting the life stories of both legendary musician Johnny Cash and singer June Carter, Walk The Line
has proven to be among the most popular music biopics of all time. And with good reason.
Spearheaded by two superb performances, the film’s main focus is on Cash himself, from his childhood, early successes, eventual troubles through to the legendary concert at Folsom Prison. His journey also takes in drug problems, the tragedy that haunted him and bumpy relationships with the women in his life. Throughout, of course, there’s Cash’s enviable body of musical work, which not only helps provide markers for his story, but makes for an excellent soundtrack to the movie as a whole.
As a film, Walk The Line
is resolutely formulaic, with a structure that’ll be familiar to anyone who regularly watches biopics of this ilk. What really helps this one stand tall though are Joaquin Pheonix and Reese Witherspoon. Pheonix is utterly compelling in the lead role, while Witherspoon returns to the form she displayed back in the days of Election
James Mangold’s direction is fine and uncluttered, and while his film clearly chooses which elements of Cash’s life to focus on (there’s certainly far more to know than you get in the two and a quarter hours here), it works extremely well as an entry point into the life story of a great musician. Even the casual viewer will get a lot from Walk The Line
, and it may even compel them to expand their CD collection off the back of it --Simon Brew