Ray (2004)


I still think Jamie Foxx should have won the Oscar for Booty Call.

Jamie Foxx stars as rhythm and blues legend Ray Charles, who lost his eyesight after contracting glaucoma at age 6. Despite a hardscrabble upbringing in Albany, Ga. and repeated struggles with racism, romantic letdowns — and his own heroin abuse — Charles went on to become a world-famous pianist and performer.

Now to be honest I have never been a real listener of Ray Charles, but I won’t lie when I say that by the end of this film I didn’t want just blast out “What I’d Say” right away.

This is a great rock biopic because it shows us the man behind the music without ever leaving a single story out, good and bad. I got to see this man for everything that he was and everything that he wasn’t. (Apologies for the clichĂ©.)

He was a music genius that blended all sorts of music such as country, R&B, soul, blues, and even gospel music. But he was also a heroin junkie for the longest time and missed out on plenty of opportunities with his wife and kids, as well as not being able to keep it in the pants on the road. You don’t get too many biopics that are as frank as this one and I have to say good job to director Taylor Hackford for that.

To go along with the story which works so well in the first place too, is the actual music that is performed many upon many times in this film and just makes you want to dance. Hits like Unchain My Heart, What I’d Say, I Got a Woman, Georgia On My Mind, Hit the Road Jack, and much more are played and just had me so enjoyed by what I was hearing and seeing. Your feet will tap, your fingers will snap, and your head will nod. It’s almost surprising that this dude didn’t invent rap while he was at it.

However, my problem with this film is that it does try to cover too much ground and goes on for way too long. This film is almost 2 hours and 33 minutes, which to me, kind of felt like a stretch considering that we were already an hour in the film and we didn’t even get to the part where he got signed to the really big label (ABC) just yet. I mean everything else held me over, but with two-and-a-half hour time limit, there could have been some cutting down here and there.

Let me also not forget just how abrupt the film actually ended because although I liked how it finally went out and everything, I just felt like it went on so long, covering all this ground, and then to just finally end so abruptly, with leaving plenty of questions unanswered, really made me mad because I knew there was a better way they could have ended it. Not to say that I would be a good director with this material, but I could have made it worked a bit better than Hackford had it.

The real show to see here though, is none other than Jamie Foxx as the man of the two hours and 30 minutes I already talked about, Ray Charles. Before production began, Ray auditioned Jamie, jamming for two hours on the piano and was so happy that he stood up, hugged himself and said, “He’s the one… he can do it.” And boy was Ray not wrong one bit. Foxx just seems so happy to play Charles and fully finds himself within this almost larger-than-life figure. Foxx keeps the energy going throughout almost every scene he has and when he’s actually playing those songs, it seems so real and you feel as if you’re not just watching Jamie Foxx do an impersonation of Ray Charles, you’re actually watching Ray Charles himself. Glad to see this guy actually win the Oscar, he deserved it! The rest of the cast is pretty good too with names like Terrence Howard, Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell, and Regina King.

Consensus: Though it goes on too long and has its deals of flaws, Ray is a fun and exciting take on a musical legend, that isn’t made out to be some sort of God, and more of a real person with real problems, that is played just so perfectly by Jamie Foxx. If you like music, you will like this!

8/10=Matinee!!

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11 comments

  1. I like long films and I do like this one. I’m a fan of Taylor Hackford and I thought it was a well-made bio-pic despite some of the cliches presented in the film. I agree with you that Jamie Foxx should’ve gotten some accolades for “Booty Call”. That movie was awesome.

  2. I still rank “The Music Lovers” as one of the most under-appreciated biopics of a musician ever – Ray, however, was vastly appreciated and Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Ray Charles was dead-on perfect. I often wonder if a good biopic is better for being more honest with its subject matter, or if a slight bending of the truth (although, having said that, isn’t truth often stranger than fiction?) is in order to heighten emotional impact.

    Hollywood did a top job with this, Walk The Line, and to a lesser extent Dreamgirls, all coming out in rapid succession. The biopic is not dead!

  3. Ray was awesome. I dont think Jamie Foxx has ever been as good as he was here, even if he was essentially doing an impersonation the entire movie. But yeah, he rocked. He deserved his statue.

    • Definitely! He is very good here and although he isn’t as good in other films as he is here, he still does have some great performances here and there.

  4. My problem in these films is the almost-condoing the rock n roll behaviour. RAY and WALK THE LINE both have these geniuses who are horrendous husbands and drink and take drugs … but we are expected to see them as tortured. Bio-films are always going to be positive but sometimes, it’d be nice to see a much more critical and controversial stance on an otherwise standard story. But, hell, the music sounds great!

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