RAY
Taylor Hackford, Director

 


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Universal Pictures, October 2004
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
 
RAY is an amazing biographical film of the music legend, the late Ray Charles (Jamie Foxx). It features many of his greatest hits: Hit the Road Jack, Unchain My Heart, What'd I Say, Georgia On My Mind, and I Can't Stop Loving You, along with the personal stories that inspired the songs.
 
Born in Georgia, RAY begins with his childhood, exploring the early roots of his musical gift. He witnessed the accidental drowning of his little brother, and lost his eyesight at eight years old -- losses that haunted him for the rest of his life. Ray was powerfully influenced by his barely literate mother. She was the driving force in his head throughout most of his life. When she sent him alone on a bus to a school for the blind she said, "You've got to go learn somethin'. I don't want you to end up standing on a street corner with a tin cup." 
 
Touring the US with his first band he developed his unique musical style, a fusion of gospel and jazz. Ray Charles' womanizing and the drug addiction that nearly destroyed him are not sugar coated. At the height of his fame, he made a stand against segregation. He was performing to sold out crowds that refused to allow integrated audiences. That stand cost him when he was banned from performing in the state of Georgia, the subject of one of his greatest hits, Georgia On My Mind. The eventual removal of that ban and the public apology from the State of Georgia was the recognition he was most proud of.
 
Jamie Foxx's portrayal of Ray Charles is magnificent and worthy of an Oscar. Foxx captures his musical genius, mannerisms and aura so well that you forget you're watching an actor. You have to see it to believe it. It is reported that Ray Charles collaborated with this film project before his death. RAY is absolutely worth the price of the ticket and deserves to be viewed on the big screen. At the close of the movie, the audience erupted with applause in the theater where I viewed this film. PG-13 Running time:158 minutes.
 
November 2004

 

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