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A movie directed by Taylor Hackford

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Ray - 2004

  • Jan 27, 2009
Pros: Jamie Foxx, music, good direction and story line

Cons: none for me

The Bottom Line:
"I could cry, I could cry, I could cry
I live on a Lonely Avenue
A lonely avenue"
~Ray Charles

I can only surmise that it is both frightening and a privilege for an actor to be asked to portray someone so well known that almost everyone in the world is familiar with them. It would also, no doubt, be both a burden and a joy. An actors duty is to transform the viewer, make them believe what they are seeing is real and believable. In my opinion, Jamie Foxx did just that in his interpretation of Ray Charles in Ray. Certainly we weren’t fooled into thinking it was the real Ray on screen, but Foxx gave the character such depth and charisma he made him totally real.

Whether or not all the stories told in this movie were completely real is something I can’t attest to, since I personally didn’t know Ray Charles. However, I would imagine they hit most of it pretty close to the mark since, at the time, Charles was still alive and, if the story holds true, would have objected to high heaven. His was a phenomenal story about learning to exceed at something you believe in, despite the odds against you and the hurdles you have to cross. He had the unfortunate experience of being born during a time when racial tension was at its worse, giving him yet another cross to bear.

However, determination and talent, in the end, won over even the biggest doubters and disbelievers. Ray Charles bridged generations as well as musical boundaries to create something that was uniquely his own style and voice. He made the unfortunate choice to let drugs rule his life for a while and only he could overcome that demon. As with his work, his ability to overturn that avenue of his life, is a success in and of itself.

Ray was directed by Taylor Hackford. It is rated PG-13 for drug use, addiction, sexuality and thematic elements. It was nominated, incredibly, for 77 awards, winning 40 of them. I just happened to watch this movie on the same day that Fathead Newman passed away. A long time friend and companion to Charles, he was portrayed by Bokeem Woodbine in the movie. Woodbine currently stars as Leon Cooley, a death row inmate, on Saving Grace and is a particular favorite of mine. Fathead was the one, in the movie, that introduced Charles to his first ride on the white horse.

Of course the true star of the movie, other than the incredible music, was Jamie Foxx. He took what had to be a difficult assignment and made it real. His stance, walk, attitude, humor, and humility all appeared real and not forced. I think I read or heard somewhere that he wore a special appliance to block his sight during filming. If that is true, it just shows a further dedication to his craft and his belief in a character portrayal. I did read, however, he did all his own piano playing in the film, which was a treat as well.

Ray Charles is certainly someone that could have fallen on the statement ‘I was born a poor black boy’, especially coupled with is loss of sight. He could have stepped out of life and let it pass him by, but he chose, even demanded, that life accept him for what he was and what he could do. Definitely a movie about inspiration and dedication to not only a belief but also to yourself. However, bringing this story to light, making it real and believable, was all Jamie Foxx and he deserved the accolades and awards he received for doing just that.



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More Ray (2004 movie) reviews
review by . January 17, 2010
posted in Music Matters
Ray Charles was one-of-a-kind performer and Jamie Foxx captures his personna magnificently
In the annals of American popular music there has never ever been anyone quite like Ray Charles.   Ray was a totally unique artist who from the very beginning of his storied career never allowed himself to be limited by genre.  He played what he wanted to play the record company be damned.  Although he was legally blind this was a man of great vision.  in 2004 the much anticipated biopic of the life and times of Ray Charles was released.  The film is simply …
review by . December 07, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
I enjoyed this film immensely and was impressed by the entire production. I was also impressed with director Taylor Hackford's choice to balance Ray's personal tragedies and personal life with his music careers. Many musical biographies tend to focus more on the personal side, but 'Ray' lets us into business meetings, contract discussions, label changes and in this film makes Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler important characters in the film. I also liked how the film addressed the groundbreaking musical …
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Susi Dawson ()
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About this movie


Directed by Taylor Hackford, this biopic profiles the life of legendary musician Ray Charles. Despite humble beginnings and the loss of his eyesight due to glaucoma at the age of six, Charles, depicted by Jamie Foxx, would nonetheless become an icon in both the music industry and the civil rights era. While the film delves into his problems with drugs and women, the bulk of the story details his career; among the highlights of that career are 12 Grammy awards and 11 R&B chart-toppers, such as "Unchain My Heart," "Hit the Road, Jack," "Georgia," "Doin' the Mess Around," and "Hallelujah I Just Love Her So." Also among the cast are Larenz Tate as Quincy Jones, as well as Regina King, Kerry Washington, and Clifton Powell. Charles' son, Ray Charles Jr. helped produce the film. ~ Tracie Cooper, All Movie Guide

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