Joaquin Phoenix received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Johnny Cash in Walk The Line.
Johnny Cash is an easily seen figure, therefore Phoenix really has his work cut out for him. Phoenix does not try really for a full fledged imitation but he still tries a bit of one which is really a problem. I mean if he did not try to imitate at all he could just focus on giving a strong emotionally convincing performance, but instead he does try to imitate a little bit. He never really at all tries to imitate Cash's normal speaking voice, but he does try to imitate his singing voice. This is odd because his singing voice and speaking voice should be similar but Phoenix only does the imitation with the singing voice. His singing voice is okay it is sort of like Cash's but it obviously is not the real deal. Still his imitation here is better than average and is not complete ineffective. Also he never does any mannerism for Cash except when he is performing. Again he imitates these mannerisms well enough but they never really added in convincing me he was Cash. It seems he only really used performance footage of Cash for imitation nothing else, making it so he never really seems like the real Johnny Cash.
In fact that was a problem I had throughout his performance was I never for a second though he really was Johnny Cash. It is not because he did not look like him, after all Philip Seymour Hoffman did not look like Capote, it was I did not feel he really found the right essence of the man. He only ever tries artificially to be Cash, he never really ever finds the soul of his character which causes his performance to falter for me. I never felt I met Cash or no anything more about him. Now this foes not mean its a terrible performance, if it had been a perfect imitation and if he really felt like Cash it would have been a great performance but that is not the case.
Phoenix also has another problem one of the key points of the film is his romance with June Carter. He is not so much the problem here because I think it would have been rather difficult for any actor to have chemistry with Reese Witherspoon's awkwardly odd performance. But still what he is doing is not anything special either. His performance is okay in fact he does seem like a troubled artist most of the time, not a troubled Johnny Cash but a troubled artist. I find most of the time his performance is okay properly fulfilling the emotions required for the role. He is just satisfactory in doing this never amazing. I do think that this was a challenging role for any actor to take on and he does try but he does not succeed in being Johnny Cash. If he was playing country star John Somebodyelse perhaps the performance would have been a little more satisfying but as Cash his performance falls short.