"Walk the Line" follows the conventional course of Cash's troubled childhood, where he loses his brother in an accident. It later depicts his drug and alcohol addiction. Mangold cleverly frames the story with Cash's historic 1968 concert in Folsom Prison, but he does little to illuminate its significance to the Man in Black. Joaquin Phoenix does his best to capture Cash, and he gets most of his trademark characteristics down. But Phoenix gets little help in capturing Cash's wary personality. When Cash is strung out on pills, for instance, the movie gets so amorphous and sluggish it's as if the director became as inebriated as Cash.
Reese Witherspoon manages to rise above the overall funk, giving a rousing and energetic performance. Witherspoon is able to collar June Carter's vivaciousness without ever once turning cute. She is so dynamic and capricious that if anybody walks the line in this picture, it's her. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin and Robert Patrick. Directed by James Mangold. Written by Gill Dennis and James Mangold. Produced by Cathy Konrad and James Keach. A Fox release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for some language, thematic material and depiction of drug dependency. Running time: 135 min