Joaquin Phoenix stars in this music biopic of legendary country singer Johnny Cash. Co-starring with Phoenix is Reese Witherspoon, portraying his counterpart June Carter winning her the academy award for best actress in the 78th award ceremony. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon actually sang every line of song in Walk The Line, and each learned to play his/her own musical instrument from scratch.
J.R. Cash takes an early interest in music while growing up on an Arkansas cotton farm in the Great Depression. He is very close to his elder brother Jack, who dies in an accident involving a table saw in 1944 when J.R. is out fishing. His guilt about this event is not helped when his father blames him as well, so it comes as a welcome escape when he is old enough to enlist in the air force and is sent to Germany. Inspired by a film he sees there, Inside Folsom Prison (1951) he composes a song, “Folsom Prison Blues.” Leaving the air force Cash marries and attempts to succeed as a door-to-door salesman in Memphis, Tennessee, but his heart is in music and he succeeds in an audition with Sam Phillips at Sun Records.
Soon Johnny is touring and meets June Carter, who has been a country star since childhood. Although they are drawn to each other, they are married to others. Touring takes a toll on Johnny’s marriage, and in the 1960’s he becomes addicted to amphetamines. His marriage ends and June helps him beat the drug dependency. Reading fan letters from prisoners inspires Cash to perform a concert at Folsom Prison, which leads to a very successful album. June finally accepts Johnny’s proposal of marriage given as they perform together on stage in Ontario in February, 1968.
Walk the Line has to be one of the best music biopics I’ve ever witnessed; this film was a great adaptation of a complicated life. Joaquin Phoenix fit the role of Johnny Cash like a glove fits a hand; he was comfortable and sang the songs very well. However I do believe Reese Witherspoon was excellent as June Carter, who would later become Mrs Cash, she earned that Oscar by giving a great performance and probably the best performance we will ever see from her in a film.