Review Written by: Will Penley
Directed by: James Mangold
Written by: James Mangold and Gill Dennis
Based on the books by: Johnny Cash
Produced by: James Keach and Cathy Conrad
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick, Larry Bagby, Waylon Payne
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!
"What's with the black? He looks like he's going to a funeral!"
"Maybe I am."
Johnny Cash became a legend of country music over the course of his career and his memory still lives on after his passing in 2003. I'm a huge fan of Cash's music and I think that James Mangold's biopic Walk the Line
is the perfect tribute to one of my all-time favorite singers. It was even nominated for five Oscars including Best Actor and Actress nominations for Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, respectively. In my opinion, this is one of the best films of 2005.
As everyone knows, Walk the Line
follows the life of country star Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix in an amazing performance) from when he was a young man to the time he became a star. However, his musical escapades are used as the backdrop to the real focus of the film, which is his shaky relationship with singer June Carter (Reese Witherspoon). This film gives us an insightful look at the fascinating life of Johnny Cash, through his successes and his trials. I don't live very far away from where Cash first became a star, so I've been exposed to his music all my life. Now after seeing this movie, I feel I've come to appreciate the music even more than I used to.
The highlight of this film is obviously the great performances by Joaquin Pheonix and Reese Witherspoon. Pheonix just blew me away with his portrayal of Johnny Cash and I believe his performance may be even better than Jamie Foxx's Oscar-winning performance in Ray
because, unlike Foxx, he actually sang all the songs featured in the film. Witherspoon turns in an equally good performance as June Carter and she seems to be a lock for the Best Actress Oscar. The concert scenes in the film are absolutely top-notch and feature great music. The screenplay, based on Cash's autobiography, is fantastic as well. Needless to say, this film gets an "A" grade and a huge recommendation from yours truly.
Fox released two versions of Walk the Line
on DVD, a regular single-disc edition and a two-disc collector's edition and of course I'm reviewing the latter. The first extra is an audio commentary by director James Mangold and while he provides a very informative and insightful track, I would have much rather heard a commentary with actors Joaquin Pheonix and Reese Witherspoon. Ten scenes that were cut from the film with optional director's commentary have also been included and while they're worth a watch, the film is much better off without them. Rounding out disc one is the original theatrical trailer and a soundtrack promo.
Starting off the extras on disc one are three extended musical numbers, namely "Rock and Roll Ruby," "Jackson" and "Cocaine Blues." I'm a huge fan of the man and his music, so these were a real treat. "Folsom, Cash & The Comeback" is a featurette about Johnny Cash's comeback in the late '60s with his live concert at Folsom prison. "Celebrating the Man in Black: The Making of Walk the Line
" is an excellent making-of documentary that focuses on several aspects of production, most notably the film's story and the performances. The final extra, a featurette entitled "Ring of Fire: The Passion of Johnny & June" is about the rocky relationship between Cash and Carter.
Also included in the package is a set of five black-and-white promotional stills. A fantastic film, plus a healthy amount of quality bonus materials, makes the two-disc edition of Walk the Line
a great purchase.