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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Kristin Scott Thomas,
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
Ray Dir- Taylor Hackford Cast- Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Regina King, Clifton Powell, Curtis Armstrong and Sharon Warren. Written by- Taylor Hackford and James L. White. Rating- ***
"Hit the road Jack, and don't come back no more, no more, no more, NO MORE!" Who would've thought that this immortal line that has almost become a remedial mantra for broken relationships in popular culture was conceived over a lovers' brawl! Ray Charles was a genius. And if there was one thing that he knew, breathed and lived for; it was music. So in a lifetime that comprised acute poverty, a desperate struggle with darkness, guilt, drugs and painful affairs; Ray still found moments when inspiration hit him out of nowhere and words and notes took their own shape to form an instant eternal classic!
There are some lives that deserve to be transformed on the silver screen. Ray Charles's life was one of them. It almost comes as a shock to learn that this project had no studio-backing until it was completed! And that backing probably came after the initial screenings where Jamie Foxx's performance was lauded and predicted as a surefire Oscar winner in hushed voices. Jamie Foxx as Ray almost convinces us that it is indeed Ray Charles performing on screen and not an actor impersonating! From the crooked all-knowing smile to the bent gait of not so much a handicapped but a man dancing through his demons, Foxx captures every essence of the actual Ray Charles. Ray was a complicated man. He never demanded sympathy and very rarely showed it himself. An astute businessman, he ensured his success at any cost, sometimes at the price of losing his loved ones. He never apologized for his philandering ways and always maintained that he loved his family, which we are convinced he did. He liked sex; it was as simple as that! But beneath all, there also existed a Ray that was afraid of darkness. Imagine the horrors of a blind man afraid of darkness! His fear was because of his guilt. Ray was convinced that he was the reason for his brother's death, and his whole life was spent trying to redeem himself. Ray was a maverick who fused gospel with jazz, an unheard blasphemous practice in the 50's. But his intentions weren't to instigate. He was simply practicing the only way he knew of getting close to God!
It is hard to capture such an eventful life as that of Ray, and that is perhaps where the movie fails. We are never really allowed to get close to Ray as a person. We know him only as much as we see him. His relationships, especially with Margie Hendricks(Regina King), aren't explored in detail. And the script barely passes over Della Bea(Kerry Washington), Ray's wife, who everyone knows was a rock by his side. And the biggest blunder of all is the rushed, almost abrupt climax. It's as if the director suddenly realized he was out of stock and called for a pack-up! Nonetheless, 'Ray' is definitely recommended for a flawless performance from Jamie Foxx and an able stellar ensemble. The songs and age create a sense of nostalgia, and we get a genuine feeling that the film is made with sincerity.
Note- 'Ray' is nominated in six categories at this year's Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor(Jamie Foxx).
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19th February, 2005
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