Jonathan Holiff’s father, Saul Holiff, was the longtime manager of Johnny Cash. When he killed himself, long after the professional relationship had been severed, his son, a documentary filmmaker, decided to look into the life of the patriarch who had always stood emotionally apart from him.
Uncovering a trove of personal archives, he records letters, telegrams, diaries, home movies, and audiotapes from his father’s long career and, in the process, equally illuminates the wayward life of Cash. Jonathan never really plumbs his father’s mysteries, some of which are probably un-plumbable, and there are too many reenactments for my taste. But you get a strong whiff of what it must have been like to be Johnny Cash, or his exasperated manager, from this film. It would make a good companion piece to “Walk the Line.” Grade: B (Unrated.)