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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.
Andy Serkis makes for a pretty good experience overall
I was a regular Ian Dury record buyer in my late teens but wouldn't say I was in his thrall. Nevertheless, I was intrigued enough to go and see this biopic featuring Andy Serkis (Golum in Lord of The Rings) as the great man himself.
His performance is top drawer and does make you feel you are in the room with the chief Blockhead himself. But this is more than a music homage. This is a reasonably complex life story told with more than a smattering of real film skills. It opens a bit frenetically with a hotch-potch of animation, flashbacks, montage and "stuff" that the director's (Mat Whitecross - not one I know) using to try to tell the back story quick as a flash. Whilst it works in story-telling terms it feels like it's trying too hard and it takes 20 minutes for the film to find its feet as Dury metamorphosises from Kilburn and The High Roads into Ian Dury and The Blockheads.
Thereafter, the film is far more assured, but strangely unmoving on the whole, despite the fact that there are a lot of episodes that could have jerked a tear or two. Little is made of his chart success. other than the typical excesses that stardom inevitably brings in its wake; rather, the film is much more interested in his complicated love life and (abysmal) family life which lays true the aphorism that what goes around comes around. Actually, it's better for that.
In particular the relationship with Dury and his son, Baxter (played brilliantly by Son of Rambow star Bill Milner) is the main thread of the movie. Initially reticent, Baxter becomes increasingly influenced by his rebellious father and follows suit. Again, like Dad, in response to the bullying and humiliation he faced at school.
The finale is really good and pulls together a lot of strands including the Spartacus references that cropped up earlier in the action. I won't spoil it by telling you how though.
actually,the movie tries a little too hard; it's a touch too stylised for my liking, but it zips along quickly despite its fairly lengthy 115 minute running time.
Overall, I'd recommend it; if for no other reason than to wonder at Andy Serkis.
7 out of 10.
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