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Walk the Line

Walk the Line
Directed by James Mangold
Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon
Rated M for drug use, moderate themes, infrequent coarse language

Walk the Line is a great movie about the power of soulful music in the 1950s and 1960s, describing the lives and romance of country singers Johnny Cash and June Carter. Cash (played by Joaquin Phoenix) married Carter (played by Reese Witherspoon) in 1968 and they died, months apart, in 2003.

The movie pivots on Cash’s memory of his brother, Jack, who was killed in a farming accident in 1944, and his relationship with his unforgiving father.

Walk the Line is also very much June Carter’s story; a gospel singer, songwriter and comedian who lived in a world of judgement following two failed marriages and her association with Cash, “the Man in Black”.

This is a superb musical bio-pic. I was especially moved by Cash’s response to his many fans in prison; connecting with their plight out of his own struggles with drug addiction, sorrow and a perceived failure to be anywhere as good as his late brother. Cash’s growth as a musician and performer is watered by these tears. Phoenix and Witherspoon (who won an Best Actress Oscar for her role) sing all the songs and deserve all the awards that this film attracts.

This film highlights the influence of gospel music on the direction of country and rock musical performances and the power of music revealed in the heights, which emerges from the utter depths, of life. This is the power of Walk the Line; a must-see movie for 2006.