Directed by James Mangold and featuring stellar performance from Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line is the story of the early part of Johnny Cash's career. His father, played by Robert "T-1000" Patrick, is an overbearing drunkard who blames Johnny for his older brother's death. Cash's rise from nothing into a huge country star is the stuff of typical Hollywood biopictorials but it makes for a compelling story. The recipe is simple: Mix equal parts parental pressure, anti-familial temptation, drug abuse, and allure of fame and you have a biopic. Walk the Line is Ray set to country music- and thats not a bad thing. But what really drives the story, as in Ray, are the central performances and here Phoenix is Cash. What really strikes you when you watch this movie is that Phoenix sounds just like Johnny Cash, belting out every line of "Ring of Fire" or other assembled hits of Cash's. And while I am too young to speak authoritatively on the matter, Reese Witherspoon's performance as June Carter is very impressive, representing a strong woman forced to develop fierce independence and be the mature shepard of the wayward, drug addicted Cash.
Ultimately, I liked this movie but found it rather slight, almost a trifle. It was very good but was definitely saved by the performances. Ultimately I guess these biopics are formulaic but thats OK- they end up entertaining and inspiring- and its tough not to get excited by a prison full of felons waiting to here "Walk the Line".