Walk the Line This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     When I heard that Joaquin Phoenix had been cast as Johnny Cash in the biopic about the Man in Black, I was reluctant to support the studio’s choice. I felt Phoenix didn’t have the stature or the look of Cash, and chances were, he wouldn’t sound remotely like the stout Cash I knew and loved.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Phoenix’s performance in “Walk the Line” isn’t as well-executed as Jamie Foxx’s in last year’s “Ray,” but I applaud him for giving it his all. Johnny Cash is a difficult persona to capture and Phoenix does an exceptional job.

“Walk the Line” is a very fair film. The story is fascinating and the acting by both Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash is superb, but the script itself is occasionally dry and the ending somewhat rushed, even a bit cliché.

Cash, a veteran of the Sun record label, frequently toured with artists like Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, which is depicted in the film. The actors cast for Presley and Lewis are not believable enough, and noticeably so. I also think Cash’s long-time friend Waylon Jennings is poorly cast.

The film opens with a chilling camera pan of Folsom prison and its inmates cheering for Cash. That scene defines the prime moments of the film, and is a most appropriate beginning.

In comparison to the critically acclaimed “Ray,” the performances in “Walk the Line” are not as well executed but the film itself is believable and better scripted. Whereas the major flaw of “Ray” is the extreme focus on Ray Charles’ drug addiction, “Walk the Line” provides a better balance of both Cash’s successes and tribulations.

The film is well-directed and has some great set decoration, costumes and conflict between characters, particularly Cash and his father, as well as between Cash and June Carter.

Overall, “Walk the Line” is a fair movie and an excellent musical biopic with exceptional acting, but doesn’t quite have what it takes to be this year’s main Oscar contender.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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countrygal said...
Jan. 20, 2011 at 12:06 pm
good article! this is one of my favorite movies, and you did it justice.
 
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