the fresh films reviews

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Walk the Line (2005)

James Mangold
Walk the Line
136 minutes
James Keach
Cathy Konrad
Screenwriter (based on books by Johnny Cash and Patrick Carr):
Gill Dennis
James Mangold

Cast includes:

Johnny Cash Joaquin Phoenix
June Carter Reese Witherspoon
Vivian Cash Ginnifer Goodwin
Ray Cash Robert Patrick
Sam Phillips Dallas Roberts
Luther Perkins Dan John Miller
Marshall Grant Larry Bagby
Elvis Presley Tyler Hilton
Jerry Lee Lewis Waylon Payne
Waylon Jennings Shooter Jennings



The biopic formula is well-known, some might even say tediously repetitive. And that's not necessarily an insignificant argument. But its an argument that's hard to provide much depth after seeing, James Mangold's Walk the Line - an incredibly rich, poignant and important document of the history of rock'n roll, and one of its finest pioneers. Joaquin Phoenix is absolutely magnificent in what will probably stand as the role of his life. His looks, energy, terror and - above all - singing voice encompasses everything we know and remember about the man in black himself. With an inspired Reese Witherspoon as June Carter by his side, Walk the Line offers a beautiful and hard-fought romance that almost seems too scripted to be true. The scene including the final marriage proposal would in many films come off as too plotted, but how can you resist something as romantic as that when it's factual?

Mangold directs (as usual, see Cop Land) with a fabulously confident pace and command. He demands his viewer to get sucked into his narrative. And the film has plenty to offer in that respect, combining its extremely interesting characters with potent drama, great music and a beautiful rendition of those magical early days of rock music. Musically, Walk the Line is at its best through a number of compelling live performance scenes, in which Phoenix' performance reaches its peak. I was especially enthralled by the band's first live performance scene (playing "Get Rhythm"), in which we get glimpses of both Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley and the former hollers to Cash as he enters: "Nobody follows the Killer". Scripted or not, that's a fairly unique little piece of rock'n roll history.

Copyright 5.2.2006 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang