Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

I don't know Johnny Cash, but I do know an actor playing Johnny Cash very well. Joaquin Phoenix doesn't just transform himself into the beloved singer, he plays the role with subtle clues that help us understand the man better. Arguably the most crucial scene in the movie is Cash's audition for Sam Phillips, where he uneasily mumbles through hymns until Phillips convinces him to play one of his own songs, and in three minutes he changes from a simpering, self-ashamed amateur to a confident, sexy, deep-voiced pro. It's that kind of close-up look at the making of a legend that fuels biopic musicals like this, and though this one suffers from a bad case of "Behind the Music"-itis (an overemphasis on the drugs & booze that seemed like fairly minor parts of his life), it's just as riveting as any expose of a complicated and charismatic celebrity. And it benefits from having some of the best damn music in any film this decade.

− September 24, 2006 • more by Scottlog in or create an account to reply

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