This decision – to cut Cash’s story off at the point at which it likely would be most interesting to religious viewers – has serious implications for the film itself. Rather than watching a story of the power of redemption, we mostly see a film about the destructiveness of sin, and of marital unfaithfulness. In that, we learn little that we haven’t seen in numerous other films about troubled souls who find solace and peace in each other’s arms.

Although human love was a potent force in the life of Johnny Cash, it was not the ultimate transforming power that the movie implies. While “Walk the Line” doesn’t completely ignore the faith of the Cashes, it stops well short of exploring it in sufficient depth, telling only the first half of a beautiful story of God’s transforming grace. We’re left with a scene toward the end of the film of Johnny and June entering a church service, and with June’s encouragement to Johnny that “God has given you a second chance to make things right” — a powerful message that demands a sequel.

AUDIENCE:  Older teens and adults

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity:  “A” word, “F” word, “S” word, “hell”
  • Drugs/Alcohol:  John smokes, drinks, and becomes addicted to prescription drugs.
  • Sex/Nudity:  John cheats on his first wife with numerous groupies, then with June, who is also married.
  • Violence:  John’s father is verbally abusive and physically intimidating both toward the boys and their mother; in a rage, John destroys his guitar and a hotel room; John attacks his first wife in front of their children.
  • Crime:  John abuses prescription drugs.
  • Religion:  June gives John a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet,” telling him it's “amazing”; a woman accuses June of being an “abomination” before the Lord because of her divorce.