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Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) grew up on an Arkansas cotton farm, a childhood marred by a tragedy that killed his older brother Jack (Lucas Till), and a father who blamed him for it and never saw anything worthwhile in him. In the mid 50s, his musical urges led him to write and sing; during an impromptu session at the soon to be famous Sun Recording Studios, finding his own unique voice - in every sense - made him a huge star in due course, working alongside other greats of the time like Elvis Presley (Tyler Hilton), Jerry Lee Lewis (Waylon Payne), Waylon Jennings (Shooter Jennings) and Roy Orbison (Jonathan Rice). But along the way, he had a troubled and ultimately broken marriage with Vivian (Ginnifer Goodwin), an almost deadly affair with booze and pills, and a long romance with fellow singer June Carter (Reese Witherspoon).

Review by Louise Keller:
The beat starts from the very beginning - that pounding beat, signalling the music that was so indicative of everything Johnny Cash represented. Based on Cash's own autobiography 'The Man in Black', James Mangold's (Girl Interrupted, Kate & Leopold) film focuses heavily on the love affair between Cash and June Carter and the pivotal role this strong woman plays in his life. Walk The Line shares some similarities with Ray, the Ray Charles' autobiography, in that the film begins by depicting a childhood trauma that impacts greatly on Cash's life. While it may not be in the same league as Ray, there are potent moments and the fact that both Joaquin Phoenix and Reece Witherspoon sing the Cash/Carter songs, adds a particular resonance.

It takes a while to be convinced that Phoenix is Cash (the screenplay skips over much of the early years when he was an unsuccessful door-to-door salesman), but the turning point for me is the moment when he storms on stage high on amphetamines. His marriage is in tatters and it is clear that he is simply obsessed by Carter, the pretty country singer who works on her comedy because she is not convinced that her voice is anything special. Their relationship is played out on stage in front of an adulating audience, and at one stage, Carter tells Cash point blank that is the only place where she will speak to him. With determination and great strength, she sees Cash through the dark hours of his drug dependency and addiction, allowing him his 'second chance'.

The climactic scene in Folson prison, when Cash makes a live recording in front of hundreds of prisoners is moving, but far too short, and many moments feel as though they have been squeezed in order to document the facts. Notably Phoenix and Witherspoon are vocally impressive as they capture, not only an essence of Cash and Carter's vocals, but the crux of their emotional being.

Walk The Line is a great love story. It may not completely satisfy as a musical tribute to the great Johnny Cash, but it leaves you with a strong sense of the man, his rebellion and the tangible bond he shared with the woman he loved.

Available on DVD as a single disc or two-disc collector's edition, special features include
An audio commentary by director James Mangold, 10 deleted scenes with optional commentary, extended musical sequences plus features about the making of the film, becoming Cash and Carter, their passion and faith.

Published June 8, 2006

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(US, 2005)

CAST: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick, Dallas Roberts, Dan John Miller, Larry Bagby, Shelby Lynne

PRODUCER: James Keach, Cathy Konrad

DIRECTOR: James Mangold

SCRIPT: James Mangold, Gill Dennis (book by Johnny Cash)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Phaedon Papamichael

EDITOR: Michael McCusker

MUSIC: T-Bone Burnett, Johnny Cash



AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 2, 2006

PRESENTATION: Widescreen; available as single disc or two disc collector's edition

SPECIAL FEATURES: Single disc: Audio commentary; 10 deleted scenes; trailer[BREAK]2-Disc Collector's Edition: Audio commentary; 10 deleted scenes with optional commentary; trailer; Johnny Cash Jukebox; extended musical sequences; Cash and the Comeback; Ring of Fire: the passion of Johnny and June; Becoming Cash/Becoming Carter; Celebrating The Man in Black: The making of the film; Cash and his faith

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: June 7, 2006

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