Ray (2004)

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Starring: Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Regina King, Clifton Powell, Sharon Warren, C.J. Sanders, Wendell Pierce, Terrence Howard

Director: Taylor Hackford

Summary: The story of musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South to stardom in the 1950’s and 60’s

Other Nominations: Director, Actor (Foxx)*, Sound Mixing*, Costume Design, Film Editing

A solid biopic, although not without flaws. I liked how the film did not sugarcoat just how deeply flawed Charles was (constantly cheating on his wife, being a heroin addict, turning his back on some of his friends for reasons of business), while celebrating how remarkable his achievements were as a blind man from a poor family in the South. The film is most noted for Foxx’s Oscar-winning performance, and you can see why: he was totally committed to the role, his performance radiates both the charm that made so many people gravitate towards him and the underlying darkness within him, haunted by his past; here though is where I have one complaint-the film posits that he was forever haunted by the death of his brother that he felt responsible for when they were children. While his brother did die, the way it happened is significantly different than as depicted in the film and apparently this wasn’t something that he couldn’t mentally escape from in real life (the death of his mother is a different story though). This, along with how they wholly fabricate Charles refusing to play at any segregated venue and him being banned from playing in Georgia, are major aspects of the film that are from the whole cloth and are a black mark against anything strictly trying to be a biopic like this is, especially when there’s more than enough interest and drama without making things like that up. Still, even though the film is a little long at over 2 ½ hours, Foxx’s performance is good, Charles’ music is good to listen to, and it paints a nuanced and mostly engaging portrait of a legendary artist.

Rating: B-

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