Walk the Line (Review)

Dir. James Mangold
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon
136 minutes

Should You See the Film?
The simple answer is yes, if you want to see solid entertainment and performances. I’m not a big fan of Cash’s music (although I do applaud his originality), so you don’t have to like his music to get into this film. If you like bio-pics, that’s another reason to see the film. I think it’s one of the better bio-pics of a music star that I’ve seen–up there with films like Sweet Dreams (Patsy Cline), The Buddy Holly Story, and Yankee Doodle Dandy. The film is better than Ray, imo, for reasons I go into below.

As I said before, this is a solid “7” level entertainment, and I think most of you would agree.

Personal Comments
Yes, the Phoenix and Witherspoon’s singing impressed me, but what stood out for me was Reese’s peformance, or should I say “presence?” Witherspoon doesn’t display incredible acting chops or bring richness and subtlety, but a charisma and winning personality that make her perfect for the June Carter-Cash. (Witherspoon really has “it,” and her particular kind of star quality is perfect for this role.) To me, June Carter-Cash is the real hero in this film, and Witherspoon deserves a lot of credit. In a way, her role is similar to the role Jennifer Connolly played in A Beautiful Mind. The difference is that Witherspoon is perfect for this part–she makes you like her and believe that she is this faithful, caring friend.

Her singing is also impressive in the film. I’ve heard that Witherspoon frequently called her agent to try and get her out because she thought her singing was horrible. It would be funny if she won the Oscar for this. Joaquin Phoenix’s singing is spot-on, too, and I think he also deserves consideration. (He also has a quality that makes you care and like him.) In a way I wish I hadn’t known that they sang their own parts and did such a good job because I had the expectation going in, and I would have liked to have been surprised by that.

Anonther thing I liked about the film was the way they ended the movie. Knowing where to end a bio-pic can be difficult, unless the featured character dies (particuarly in some dramatic way). I liked the way the film climaxed on the wedding proposal during a performance. Really, their relationship was really provided an emotional point of interest for me–as opposed to bio-pic that chronicles the way a person rises to stardom, and crashes. Sometimes there films can feel more “factual” and lack a strong narrative with an emotional center. The interest I had in June and the relationship between her and Cash made the cliched elements (i.e. music star abusing drugs and then having to get off of it) more palatable.

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