Music legend Johnny Cash is the only artist to be inducted into the Country Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. He is almost certainly the only entertainer nearly disemboweled by an ostrich. And he is also the only person ever to be sued by the federal government for starting a forest fire. (The exhaust on his camper ignited, leading to Cash's infamous defense: "I didn't start the fire, my truck did, and it's dead now.") Walk the Line, the terrific new film chronicling the first half of Cash's life and career, does not mention the ostrich or forest fire incidents. It does an outstanding job, however, of telling many of the other great stories of Cash's life.

Joaquin Phoenix as The Man in Black

Joaquin Phoenix as The Man in Black

How does the son of an Arkansas cotton farmer become a complex and iconoclastic artist, influencing virtually every genre of popular music in the process? How does he manage to wind up as both one of country music's greatest rebels and one of the Christian faith's most authentic evangelists? What happens when two people (Cash and fellow performer June Carter) share a powerful connection but, for the first decade of their relationship, can only be alone together on a concert stage? Walk the Line director and co-screenwriter James Mangold (Girl, Interrupted, Cop Land) mines two autobiographies (1986's The Man in Black and 1997's Cash: The Autobiography) and seven years of conversation and consultation with Johnny and June Carter Cash in order to explore these questions. The resulting film is engaging for all 136 of its minutes, and crackles with enough musical and emotional sparks to ignite another Cash forest fire.

Walk the Line begins (and eventually ends) at Cash's landmark 1968 Folsom Prison concert and live recording, but ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Walk the Line
Our Rating
3½ Stars - Good
Average Rating
 
(1 user ratings)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for some language, thematic material and depiction of drug dependency)
Directed By
James Mangold
Run Time
2 hours 16 minutes
Cast
Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick
Theatre Release
November 18, 2005 by 20th Century Fox
Browse All Movie Reviews By: