Joaquin Phoenix IS Johnny Cash. Ahem. Allow me to elaborate.
I first saw the original Johnny Cash in an episode of Renegade. Little did I know of his famous musical opus and his legendary songs. At that time, “Ring of fire” was just another hick song for me.
Time passed and my second encounter with the Man was in the library, when I rented his American man III: Solitary man and was excited by his deep voice and his remakes of U2 and Nick Cave songs.
After listening “Solitary man” I moved back, pulling some of his old records from the archive and started to like him. His lyrics, sense of humor and his vibe. His versions of the songs by Depeche mode, Nine inch nails, the Beatles and Sting are sung like they were an original. But I disgress. This is a movie review.
The story begins at the middle, with Johnny preparing for the notorious Folsom prison show and looks back to his childhood, remembering his brother’s death. The movies tells about his ups and downs, his love affair with June Carter whom he worshiped since he was little, his drug addiction and recovery, his “wonderful” relationship with his dad and so forth. It ends with him marrying June Carter, after many many many unsucessful proposals and they all drank lemonade.
The movie has some brilliant music numbers (I dare you to listen to “It ain’t me Babe” duet and then try to get it out of your head) and Joaquin Phoenix manages to get into the character completely. His gestures, voice and acting are superb. The movie is low on sugar and reaches its sugary peak only at the end, when the two main characters get married.
The camera-work is exemplary as is the sound. And even if you do not like country-sounding music, the songs written by Johnny Cash contain so much power, they surpass simple genre-definitions.
All in all, an excellent movie, even if it does bends the truth a little.