'Walk the Line' Review
Music Biopic of Johnny Cash
Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line is a musical biopic about Johnny Cash’s life, musical career and particularly his romantic involvement with country singer June Carter. The film is based on two of Cash’s autobiographies 1975s Man in Black: His Own Story in His Own Words and 1997s Cash: The Autobiography. The screenplay is written by Mangold and Gill Dennis, and the film is directed by James Mangold.
The story started with Johnny cash’s childhood, John and his brother Jack were listening to the radio and loved the country music, especially the Carter family. John’s relationship with his drunken and overbearing father was never great. Then his brother had an accident in the wood workshop and died and his miserable dad blamed him for it. It must have been a traumatic childhood for any child to be treated as such and no wonder Johnny left the family and went his own way.
When he left for his military service in Germany, his father mocked him once again by mentioning the war was not in Germany. But Johnny was able to write his first song while serving which worked to his advantage. After his military service, he married Vivian and had children. They lived an average working-class family life, but was short on money as John was a lousy salesman and all he wanted was to make music.
John went to an audition with his two other band members who were also amateur performers and did a mediocre job. Just as they were about to be shown to the door, the producer asked him to perform from his heart and he sang a song he wrote while in the military, which was drastically different in style from his gospel songs. His band was signed and they managed to produced their first album.
On his tours, John met his childhood idol June Carter and went on a relentless pursuit of her. She repeatedly refused him because she thought he was a married man with a nice family and did not want to be a home-wrecker. But she was not so lucky in her own romantic relationships, went through a divorce and was compelled to feel ashamed about it by other judgmental women. Her marriage afterwards was not any improvement either.
Meanwhile, John was not born into the entertainment industry and like many others, he went downhill quickly with his newfound fame and fortune. He started to drink and taking drugs while having sex with his groupies on tour. Then he got busted by the customs trying to smuggle drugs into the country and went to jail for it. And instead of helping him, his bitter father mocked him by saying, “Now you won’t have to work so hard to make people think you been to jail.”
After some turbulent events between John and June, June and her family helped John to get clean from his drug addiction by guarding him and turning away his dealers. Eventually, John got clean, they married and performed together. John bought a big house and tried to impress his father but failed miserably. His old man was a total bully even after he stopped drinking. He taunted his son by saying the house is not as big as Jack Benny’s and his tractor is stuck in the mud. John was deep down a broken little boy and his old man knew it and was playing on it with his bitter comments.
Nevertheless, John’s career was going strong and his prison live recording with June performed exceedingly well. Joaquin and Reese’s acting were engaging and they did a fantastic job with their singing.