The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.
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Ray Charles has the distinction of being both a national treasure and an international phenomenon. By the early 1960s, Ray Charles had accomplished his dream. He had come of age musically and had made it to Carnegie Hall. The hit records "Georgia on My Mind" and "Born to Lose" successively kept climbing to the top of the charts. He had made his first triumphant European concert tour in 1960 (a feat which, except for 1965, he has repeated at least once a year ever since). He had taken virtually every form of popular music and broken through its boundaries with such awe inspiring achievements as the LP's "Genius Plus Soul Equals Jazz" and "Modern Sounds in Country & Western". Rhythm and blues (or "race music" as it had been called) became universally respectable through his efforts. Jazz found a mainstream audience it had never previously enjoyed. And country and western music began to chart an unexpected course to general acceptance, then worldwide popularity. And along the way, Ray ... Written by
Phenomenal biographical film with intense and memorable performances
Jamie Foxx leads a brilliant cast in this powerful voyage through the life of the blind, emotionally troubled, African American genius of pop jazz, Mr. Ray Charles. Though the entire cast performs wonderfully, Mr. Foxx earned more than simply an Oscar. If it were possible to nominate an actor in consecutive years, I would consider doing so for Mr. Foxx. Foxx doesn't just play Charles, he re-creates him. CJ Sanders and Sharon Warren also deserve special mention for their portrayal of Ray's mother (the inspiration of his life) and young Ray. These two provided the strongest support in the film.
The dramas of Charles' struggles with guilt, the death of his younger brother and mother, blindness, discrimination, addiction, and success, are neatly woven into the tapestries of his music. The music is beautiful, the script is, as far as I can tell, perfect, and the acting is nothing short of legendary.
The directorial method of the film warrants discussion. Taylor Hackford
a director I am generally ambivalent about - had to choose what
aspects of the larger-than-life and complex life story of Mr. Charles would tell his story most honestly, dramatically, and understandably. Though some disagree (seemingly wanting a documentary instead of a dramatized biopic) I believe he selected his themes admirably. A big part of the success of this film is its consistent focus on a few persistent themes in Charles' life - his profound love and respect for his mother, his need to be loved and accepted, his addiction and guilt complex, his musical genius, and his deep-seated fear of responsibility for others. Charles is depicted as a man struggling valiantly against an army of personal demons. I learned more than I could have imagined about one of the men I used to listen to on my old turntable with my dad in his livingroom on Sunday nights while football games were on the TV. And nothing was sugar-coated in "Ray." The themes are carried forward with power and human dignity. These themes create a unifying drama which span the length of his long and illuminated life. The power of these themes, the strong script and directing, the music, and the acting make this one of the most enjoyable and evocative biographical films I have seen.
Recommended for everyone.
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