Now Mangold has delivered his masterpiece, and it's the best studio release I've seen so far this year. WALK THE LINE, Mangold's story of the relationship between Johnny Cash and June Carter, is deliriously romantic, exhiliratingly entertaining (as a musical it invites and earns comparison with the best of Vincente Minelli), and profoundly moving--all set to a spectacular soundtrack. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon are both brilliant as Cash and Carter, but not only in the ways you would expect. Their most impressive achievement is to convincingly portray two people falling in love in a manner that's sincere and sweet but never cheaply sentimental. This is the most unabashedly romantic American movie since THE NOTEBOOK, but it's totally authentic and lacking in melodrama; the subtlety with which Mangold and his performers delineate the one step forward, two steps back nature of Cash and Carter's love affair is staggering. Phoenix is particularly brilliant, not only in the romantic scenes but in moments in which Cash discusses his brother's early death; in these scenes the major tragedies of both the character and the performer's lives merge in a way that is heartbreakingly real. And the movie gets across the intoxicating nature of creative collaboration between two people in love better than any film I've ever seen--perhaps no coincidence given that Mangold and his closest collaborator, producer Cathy Konrad, are married. I could (and will) go on about this movie for hours, but let's just say that it's the movie to beat for the rest of the year.