You know if you get sick of the singing in a film about June Carter and Johnny Cash, something has gone terribly wrong.
Yet that's how I felt during "Ring of Fire" (9 p.m. Monday, Lifetime), the small screen version of the couple's love and marriage based on the book "Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash," by their son John Carter Cash.
The film, as the book's title suggests, focuses on June from her beginnings in her family group, through two marriages, her encounter with and deep yearning for Johnny that led to marriage number 3 (and the title hit song), Johnny's substance abuse problems, until her death in 2003.
The biggest problem with the film is that the way I just recounted it is the way the film plays. As in: June is a young girl, some singing; June is older, some singing; June's husband cheats, time for another song; June wants Johnny so she sits down and writes and sings "Ring of Fire"; June and Johnny can finally be together, cue more music. We're left with a list of June Carter's life events rather than insight into her life.
Despite those limitations, singer Jewel, who plays the adult June, is quite good. The gal from Alaska does a solid Southern accent and she's believable. She doesn't have much to work with script wise, but she makes the most of what she has. She plays well with Matt Ross who plays Johnny Cash, who also does a solid job despite a slight characterization. Frances Conroy plays Maybelle Carter; she's always good.
By the way, there's a little hometown connection: Three local kids are in the film. Austin Stack plays a young John Carter Cash, Ellie Dusek plays Carlene Carter, and Sterling Adams plays Rosie.
Tune in to see them, and to hear Jewel sing those great songs. Just don't expect the film to match the genius of the talent it's about.