i'm just going to get this out of the way right now: there's nothing i can possibly say about Johnny Cash here that hasn't already been said. the man's music is legendary and rightly so. it is simultaneously simple and completely distinct, raw and well-developed, accessible and challenging, understated and powerful. but you know all of that. his music has been fascinating people for 50 years.

the life of the man who created that music is equally as fascinating and Walk the Line explores a dramatic chunk of it. the movie has already won and continues to win all kinds of critical awards, so i'm sure i have as much original insight into it as i do into his music. however, that won't stop me from reflecting on the film a little.

although i came into the theater already knowing some of the key details of Cash's life, i still found myself engaged throughout. that's a testament to the much-lauded performances of Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter. the events portrayed in the film begin in Cash's childhood, and span well into the heart of his musical career. but Cash's rise to musical fame is only the fabric onto which the prominent threads of his damaging addiction to drugs and his tumultuous love for June Carter are woven throughout most of the narrative and hemmed together at the climax of the film.

every biopic must choose which details of a complex human life to focus on and which to ignore. they can never cover all the complexities of the real story and in that sense, it is difficult for a biopic to be entirely satisfying. Walk the Line certainly followed this trend, in that it wasn't perfectly satisfying for me, but it did come close. it mostly made the right choices and focused on the details of Cash's life that gave genuine insight into his humanity without reducing him to a caricature (any more than he had been prior to this film, anyway). my biggest complaint, and it's a minor one, is that more development could have been devoted to Cash's relationship with his first wife as well as June Carter's relationship woes with her previous husbands. a little more fleshing out of those relationships could have added a slightly richer dimension to the overall story, i think, but even without that, the film stands strong.

the ultimate strength of the film for me is that the great performances, appropriate scripting choices and solid direction come together to honestly explore the theme of beautiful redemption in the midst of intense and horrible brokenness. it's a theme that is so true to Cash's life experience and reflects a faith that endured well beyond the details portrayed in the film.