I know, you’re dying to see the new Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line, as much as I am. It’s received largely positive reviews, most of which I’ve read (out of my Johnny Cash excitement), so you don’t have to.
Apparently both Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon pull off the singing — marvelously well. Ann Hordaday in the Post loves the singing, is a little down on Witherspoon, and dismisses the film as too firmly wed to the biopic story arc. David Edelstein at Slate loves it all: it’s a biopic alright, but breaks away enough to convince; Witherspoon “gives every scene a lift”; Phoenix “evokes Cash on stage.” Joe Morgenstern (sub. req’d), the WSJ‘s stellar film critic, says the film “breaks through the conventions of its biopic form with a pair of brilliant performances and a whole lot more.” At NRO, Steve Beard tackles the tougher questions of how to enjoy Cash and appreciate his love for June while knowing that he left his first wife for her. Beard explains it well:
He was America’s blue-collar troubadour of tales of heaven and hell, murder and redemption, love and death, sin and salvation. He was never too proud to seek grace, but he would never pretend to be pious. He once referred to himself as a C-minus Christian — a believer who had nose-dived into the sumptuous buffet line of fame and fortune and was working his way towards paradise, one painful day at a time.
As some reviewers have pointed out, if you want the short version of the Johnny Cash story, watch the 2003 music video for “Hurt,” a chilling journey through Cash’s life of chaos, love, God, and sin. If you’re wanting more Cash, go see the film.