By Ambrose Roche, NXNE Film Programmer
Jonathan Holiff’s new documentary is more than just another addition to the bottomless pit of archival footage dedicated to legend, man, myth and flawed mortal that is Johnny Cash. This film is a universal and troubling tale of the very real walls that parents can build around themselves… walls that not only obscure but hurt, confuse, confound, damage and exclude those the parents claim to love most: their kids.
There is much great music, oodles of exclusive visuals (stills and film clips) and – think panelled dens, tiki bars and vintage 50s and 60s décor – seamless re-creations of the past. With more plot points and twists than a Syd Field screenwriting seminar, the narrative is strong, exposing more faces of the multifaceted Man In Black himself than ever before. From the film’s perspective, it seems the drugs and drink weren’t the real cause of Cash’s professional self-destruction.
Refreshingly, My Father and the Man In Black does not slip into the realm of tabloid. It’s an intense personal adventure with universal themes and appeal that just happens to feature one of 20th-century music’s great icons.