Johnny Cash: talented musical trend setter, stylish rock star and cotton-picking farm boy, all in one. Walk the Line is the story of the life of a suave, yet not so sophisticated, musician from Tennessee. Joaquin Phoenix plays his role as Cash like he does all his other roles, his trademark pained looks sometimes forcing you to relive that great moment in Gladiator when Russell Crowe stabs him in the throat. While I found his acting a bit dry his singing is damn near amazing! You wouldn’t have thought it to look at him but he can sing like the dead legend himself. Paired up with the very sexy Reese Witherspoon, Phoenix delivers some great music scenes, a particular favourite of mine being the montage featuring ‘Walk the Line’.
It always makes me feel good to know that the stuff I’m watching actually happened. It makes it really unpredictable because we know that the film isn’t a drama that came out of some writers head, it was real life. I don’t know if it was just me, but I found myself cracking up at Johnny Cash’s redneck style and ineptitude toward women. There’s a part in the film when Cash is at home with his wife (Ginnifer Goodwin) and he suddenly gets the bright idea to start hanging up framed pictures of June Carter (Witherspoon) around the house! I kept thinking “You’re not the sharpest tool in shed are you bro?” (Then again it is Reese Witherspoon). And if you’re thinking that Witherspoon gives another damn awful Legally Blonde-like performance then you can think again. Her singing is just as jaw dropping as Phoenix’s but her acting is a hundred times better – she even pulls off a pretty convincing southern drawl.
Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t listen to the country & western music Johnny Cash is famous for, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the film in the slightest. I walked out of that cinema humming ‘Walk the Line’! Focusing on the central romance between Johnny Cash and June Carter gives the film a softer edge and a loving feel that I really enjoyed.
DIRECTED BY JAMES MANGOLD
Regent on Manners, Reading Cinemas