I'd love to be able to say that Johnny Cash has always been a hero of mine and I've that grown up on his music and his ways of life ever since I was a small child. Unfortunately, we had enough cowboys and country folk in Glasgow in the 80s so it wasn't until I was well on my way to adulthood that the magic of Johnny Cash was known to me.

It would be unfair to label him as a hero because I certainly haven't lived up to his words or had aspirations to be more like him but he always seemed one of the more honest artists. A person who only behaved one way; his way and he never seemed to say anything that he wouldn't be prepared to back up. For all these reasons, it was with some trepidation that 'Walk The Line' was viewed.

Musically, the film is a delight. It's been well documented that Phoenix and Witherspoon performed their own vocals but if you never knew that, you would never feel the need to question. Perhaps only on the later version of 'Jackson' does Witherspoon fail to match Carter's awe-inspiring first line but elsewhere, the performances are high quality, even the early run through of songs sound authentic and well worked.

The version of 'Cocaine Blues' in the Fulsom Prison scene goes a long way to capturing the electricity of the original performance and I actually had goosebumps when the opening lines of "Early one morning while making the rounds...." kicked in. With the period of Johnny Cash's life that the film examined, the quality of songs was never going to be in doubt. Thankfully the new performances do justice both to the originals and the film itself. The fact that this author came home from the pictures and ordered the soundtrack online would indicate that the songs have grandness about them.

When portraying a larger than life person on screen, it must be a daunting task but Joaquin Phoenix carries off the look and image of Cash well. Once you dispel the initial disbelief, it's easy to follow on that he is Cash and after his vocal performances are heard, there are no doubts. It's a challenging role for Phoenix, portraying such a well-known character and one who has several mood and attitude changes in one short time space but the role is carried off with success.

For all that the focus will remain on the music and the singing performances, the film is essentially a love story, and captures perfectly the romance and passion held between Johnny and June. For all the comedy value the term 'Ring of Fire' has given to bad pun-makers throughout the years it wonderfully explains the emotions June Carter was feeling, being dragged between her feeling for Cash and her own and her fans moral beliefs. The film shows the gestation of this track and goes some way to indicate Carter was a talent in her own right.

Reese Witherspoon turns in a strong performance as June Carter. Her first scene shows her playing the Southern belle role to the full but throughout the film, she convinces as the strong-willed, big-hearted country star. From the twinkling of her eyes through to her bashful yet forceful mannerisms, Witherspoon conveys a lot of the magic that Carter had around her and it's easy to see why Cash would have fallen in love with her.

One of the first indications that the film was being made along the right lines was the inclusion of Dan Miller, lead guitarist of Blanche. Blanche made a splash in the UK supporting The White Stripes and their brand of low-fi country musings gained them a small spirited fan base. Playing the role of Luther Perkins, Cash's right hand guitar man, Miller has a strong calming influence throughout and his name indicates that the music selection was important to the filmmakers. Shelby Lynne, acting in the role of Cash's mother, also represented today's country music.

Like 'Ray', last year's hit film of Ray Charles life; Walk The Line deserves all the plaudits it receives. Both artists had their demons, notably the death of a young sibling and both battled drug addictions and insecurities. Your choice of favourite may well come down to your preferred song or artist. Ray was a good film and the music worked but for this writer, Walk The Line wins hands down.

For all the talk of Cash, he probably has as many myths about him as the truth but it doesn't matter anymore, it's hard to separate the man from the legend. Johnny Cash had a rock star lifestyle before the rock star image was invented, he had troubles and he had his pain. He also had a voice, a talent and the love of a strong woman.

The music of Cash may not mean anything to you but that doesn't mean you should discount this film. If there's ever been a time in your life when you've done something bad when all you wanted to do was right, if you've ever felt a love but just couldn't act upon it or if you have had a soul and known what it was like to touch someone else's, even for a mere minute, then this film is for you.

Johnny may have never shot a man in Reno but the way he sang you would believe he shot hundreds. This film does the lives of Johnny Cash and June Carter-Cash justice and there's probably not a higher compliment this writer could give the film.