|Walk the Line|
|Directed by||James Mangold|
|Produced by||James Keach
|Written by||Gill Dennis
|Music by||T-Bone Burnett|
|Cinematography||Phedon Papamichael Jr.|
|Editing by||Michael McCusker|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release date(s)||November 18, 2005|
|Running time||135 min.|
Walk the Line is a 2005 American-German biographical drama film, directed by James Mangold and based on the life of country music artist Johnny Cash. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Robert Patrick.
The film focuses on Cash's younger life, his romance with June Carter, and his ascent to the country music scene, with material taken from his autobiographies. Walk the Line's production budget is estimated to have been US$28,000,000.
The film previewed at the Telluride Film Festival on September 4, 2005, and went into wide release on November 18. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Actor (Joaquin Phoenix), Best Actress (Reese Witherspoon) and Best Costume Design (Arianne Phillips). Witherspoon won the Oscar for Best Actress, the film's sole Oscar winner.
As of August 22, 2006, the film had grossed a total of $186,438,883 worldwide. On February 28, 2006, a single-disc DVD and a two-disc collector edition DVD were released; these editions sold three million copies on their first day of release. On March 25, 2008 a two-disc 'extended cut' DVD was released for region one. The feature on disc one is 17 minutes longer than the theatrical release, and disc two features eight extended musical sequences with introductions and documentaries about the making of the film. The film has been released on Blu-Ray Disc in France and the United Kingdom, with a United States Blu-Ray release is slated for early 2010.
In 1944, Johnny grows up the son of a cotton picker in Dyess, Arkansas. He sings well like his mother, and is adept with hymnals, while his brother Jack is training to become a pastor. One day, Jack is sawing wood for a neighbor, and tells Johnny to go fishing while he works. At home, Jack is carried inside by their father, Ray, covered in blood, having been fatally injured by the saw. Johnny's relationship with his father, already strained, becomes much more difficult after Jack's death.
In 1952, Johnny joins the Air Force and is stationed in Germany. He finds solace in playing a guitar he buys and writing songs - one of which will become "Folsom Prison Blues,". Following his discharge, he marries his girlfriend Vivian Liberto.
In 1955, Vivian and Johnny live in Memphis in relative poverty while Johnny works as a door-to-door salesman to support his growing family. One day, he walks past a recording studio, which inspires him to organize a band to play gospel music. Cash's band auditions for Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records. As they play, Phillips interrupts and asks Cash to play a song that he really “feels”. Cash and his band then play "Folsom Prison Blues," landing them a contract with Sun.
The band begins touring as Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two. He meets many different artists on tour, including June Carter, whom Johnny falls in love with. Johnny begins spending more time with June, who divorces her first husband, Carl Smith, at this time. After an attempt by Cash to woo June backfires, he begins to habitually take drugs and alcohol and soon begins to behave erratically. After his behavior peaks during a performance with June, they go their separate ways.
In 1964, at an awards program, despite his wife's objections, Johnny persuades June, in the middle of her second divorce, to come out of semi-retirement and tour with him. The tour is a success, but backstage, Vivian is critical of June's influence. After one Las Vegas performance in 1965, Cash and June sleep together in her hotel room. The next morning, she notices Cash taking several pills and begins to doubt her choices. At that evening's concert, Cash, upset by Carter's apparent rejection, behaves erratically and eventually passes out. June disposes of Cash's drugs and begins to write "Ring of Fire", describing her feelings for Cash and her pain at watching him descend into addiction.
On his way home, Cash travels to Mexico to purchase more drugs and is arrested. Cash's marriage begins to crumble and after a final violent dispute, the pair eventually separate and Cash moves to Nashville in 1966.
Cash attempts to reconcile with June, and buys a large house near a lake in Hendersonville, Tennessee. His parents, and the extended Carter family, arrive for Thanksgiving, at which time Ray dismisses Cash's achievements and behavior. After a tense meal, June's mother, aware of her daughter's true feelings toward Cash, encourages her to help him. After a long detoxification period, Cash wakes up with June by his side. June says she, and God, have given Cash a second chance.
Cash notices in his fan mail that many of them are prisoners. Cash, now clean, dresses a black suit to visit his recording company (now Columbia Records). He proposes that he record an album live inside Folsom Prison. His record company expresses their doubts, but he says bluntly that he will perform regardless and the label can use the tapes if they wish.
At the Folsom Prison concert Cash tells how he always admired prisoners, explaining that his brief prison stay after his drug bust helped him to relate to them. The concert is a great success, and Cash embarks on a tour with June and his band.
While on a tour bus, Cash goes to see June in the back of the bus. Waking June, he proposes to her, but she turns him down. At the next concert, June tells Cash that he is allowed to speak to her only on stage. There, Cash persuades June to join him in a duet. In the middle of the song, Cash stops playing, explaining that he can't sing anymore unless June agrees to marry him. June is reluctant to give an answer, but ultimately accepts.
At his house, Cash watches his father play with his granddaughters, their tense relationship having begun to heal.
|Joaquin Phoenix||Johnny Cash|
|Reese Witherspoon||June Carter Cash|
|Ginnifer Goodwin||Vivian Cash|
|Robert Patrick||Ray Cash|
|Dallas Roberts||Sam Phillips|
|Dan John Miller||Luther Perkins|
|Larry Bagby||Marshall Grant|
|Shelby Lynne||Carrie Cash|
|Tyler Hilton||Elvis Presley|
|Waylon Payne||Jerry Lee Lewis|
|Shooter Jennings||Waylon Jennings|
|Sandra Ellis Lafferty||Maybelle Carter|
|Dan Beene||Ezra Carter|
|Clay Steakley||W.S. "Fluke" Holland|
|Johnathan Rice||Roy Orbison|
|Johnny Holiday||Carl Perkins|
|Ridge Canipe||Young Johnny Cash|
|Lucas Till||Young Jack Cash|
|McGhee Monteith||Reba Cash|
|Carly Nahon||Young Reba Cash|
|Wyatt Entrekin||Young Tommy Cash|
|Hailey Anne Nelson||Rosanne Cash|
|Clare Grant||Audrey Parks|
|Kerris Dorsey||Kathleen "Kathy" Cash|
Walk the Line was released on November 18, 2005 in 2,961 theaters, grossing USD $22.3 million on its opening weekend. The film went on to make $119.5 million in North America and $66.9 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $186.4 million, well above its $28 million budget.
Critics generally responded with positive reviews, garnering an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, almost exactly the same score received by Ray, a biopic about Ray Charles, to which the film is often compared. Walk the Line also received a 72 metascore from Metacritic.
Phoenix's performance inspired film critic Roger Ebert to write, "Knowing Johnny Cash's albums more or less by heart, I closed my eyes to focus on the soundtrack and decided that, yes, that was the voice of Johnny Cash I was listening to. The closing credits make it clear it's Joaquin Phoenix doing the singing, and I was gob-smacked". In her review for the Los Angeles Times, Carina Chocano wrote, "Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon do first-rate work — they sing, they twang, they play new-to-them instruments, they crackle with wit and charisma, and they give off so much sexual heat it's a wonder they don't burst into flames". A.O. Scott, in his review for the New York Times, had problems with Phoenix's performance: "Even though his singing voice doesn't match the original - how could it? - he is most convincing in concert, when his shoulders tighten and he cocks his head to one side. Otherwise, he seems stuck in the kind of off-the-rack psychological straitjacket in which Hollywood likes to confine troubled geniuses". In his review for Time, Richard Corliss wrote, "A lot of credit for Phoenix's performance has to go to Mangold, who has always been good at finding the bleak melodrama in taciturn souls ... If Mangold's new movie has a problem, it's that he and co-screenwriter Gill Dennis sometimes walk the lines of the inspirational biography too rigorously".
Andrew Sarris, in his review for The New York Observer praised Witherspoon for her "spine-tingling feistiness", and wrote, "This feat has belatedly placed it (in my mind, at least) among a mere handful of more-than-Oscar-worthy performances this year". Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B+" rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote, "while Witherspoon, a fine singer herself, makes Carter immensely likable, a fountain of warmth and cheer, given how sweetly she meshes with Phoenix her romantic reticence isn't really filled in". Baltimore Sun reviewer Michael Sragow wrote, "What Phoenix and Witherspoon accomplish in this movie is transcendent. They act with every bone and inch of flesh and facial plane, and each tone and waver of their voice. They do their own singing with a startling mastery of country music's narrative musicianship". In his review for Sight and Sound, Mark Kermode wrote, "Standing ovations, too, for Witherspoon, who has perhaps the tougher task of lending depth and darkness to the role of June, whose frighteningly chipper stage act - a musical-comedy hybrid - constantly courts (but never marries) mockery".
However, critics such as Jayson Harsin found the film to be too constrained by Hollywood plot formulas of love and loss, totally ignoring the last twenty years of Cash's life and other more socio-politically controversial reasons he was considered "the man in black." In addition, the Cashs' daughter, Rosanne Cash, was quite critical of the film. She saw a rough edit and described the experience like "having a root canal without anaesthetic." Her brother was instrumental in having the filmmakers remove two scenes that were not flattering to her mother. Furthermore, she said, "The movie was painful. The three of them [in the film] were not recognisable to me as my parents in any way. But the scenes were recognisable, and the storyline, so the whole thing was fraught with sadness because they all had just died, and I had this resistance to seeing the screen version of my childhood".
Film critic Andrew Sarris ranked Walk the Line #7 in top films of 2005 and cited Reese Witherspoon as the best female performance of the year. Witherspoon was also voted Favorite Leading Lady at the 2006 People's Choice Awards. In addition, David Ansen of Newsweek ranked Witherspoon as one of the five best actresses of 2005.
|Academy Awards record|
|1. Best Actress (Reese Witherspoon)|
|Golden Globe Awards record|
|1. Best Musical or Comedy Picture|
|2. Best M/C Actor (Joaquin Phoenix)|
|2. Best M/C Actress (Reese Witherspoon)|
|BAFTA Awards record|
|1. Best Actress (Reese Witherspoon)|
|2. Best Sound|