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Overall Rating
3.98

Awesome: 26.62%
Worth A Look53.96%
Average: 12.23%
Pretty Bad: 5.04%
Total Crap: 2.16%

10 reviews, 79 user ratings


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Ray
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by EricDSnider

"A celebration of music."
4 stars

For me, the measure of a biopic's greatness is whether it makes a person I wasn't particularly interested in before seem interesting. I was apathetic toward Muhammad Ali, and "Ali" didn't change that. I never gave a thought to Andy Kaufman, but "Man on the Moon" made me think about him a lot. "Ray" belongs to the latter camp. I spent very little time pondering Ray Charles before -- great pianist, overcame his blindness, very famous, sorry he died, and so forth -- and now here I am appreciating his talents and finding him to be an interesting character.

The star of this film, as you have already heard, is Jamie Foxx. I think his dramatic turn in "Collateral," in which he did not annoy me -- a first for Jamie Foxx -- prepared me for "Ray," where he is shockingly good. He does a fine impersonation of Charles, first of all -- the voice, the mannerisms, the piano style -- but most film performances that are ONLY impersonations lose their impact when it comes to emotions. It's one thing to behave like the famous guy everyone has seen on TV; it's quite another to show us how that person would have acted in private. Foxx has the acting chops to back it up. He puts Charles into believable emotional situations and acts the way we imagine Charles would have acted, translating his public persona into a real character.

The film commences with Ray's journey in 1948 from his north Florida home to Seattle, where he has a gig lined up as a blues pianist. He meets a fellow outside the club, a trumpet player. They chat a minute. When Ray introduces himself, the man replies, "I'm Quincy Jones." Lovers of music and musical history titter with excitement.

The movie is like that. We see Ray get his trademark sunglasses, see him drop his surname, Robinson, since there was already a Ray Robinson in the public eye, see him improvise the song that became "What'd I Say." We see the concert where one of his backup singers, a Ray-spurned lover named Margie (Regina King), growls the words to "Hit the Road, Jack" like she really, really means them. We see him get introduced first to marijuana, then to heroin. We see him record "Georgia on My Mind," only to be banned from performing in Georgia after he refuses to play for segregated audiences.

Ray was not what you'd call a monogamous man. His marriage to Della Bea (the sublime Kerry Washington), a former gospel singer who at first is appalled at Ray's mixing gospel tunes with R&B lyrics, is depicted as tumultuous in the way that tortured artists' marriages are always depicted as tumultuous. There are the standard "you care more about your [music/art/writing/drugs/whatever] than you care about me" accusations, with the requisite "I hate your lifestyle but I sure love how rich we are" moments.

Director Taylor Hackford ("Proof of Life," "The Devil's Advocate"), who shares story credit with screenwriter James L. White, knows that music was the key to Ray Charles' appeal. As a character, he is often selfish and destructive (though he does balance it with sympathetic moments), but as a musician and performer, there is no ambivalence. Hackford is therefore wise to infuse nearly every scene with music -- catchy, rhythmic, soulful music -- and thus infuse the film entire with energy.

Ultimately, it's the music that keeps me drawn into the film, followed closely by Jamie Foxx's soulful (in both senses of the word) performance. The time periods are recreated vividly, the direction is smooth, the film works. Now I think about Ray Charles a lot, too.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10361&reviewer=247
originally posted: 11/08/04 17:26:15
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/29/09 Jeff Wilder Foxx's performance alone makes it worth viewing. 4 stars
9/28/08 Shaun Wallner Boring!! 1 stars
2/04/08 Pamela White Nice to see that celebritys whole life 5 stars
4/30/07 MP Bartley Foxx is excellent but it's no Walk the Line 3 stars
2/22/07 R.W.Welch Overlong biopic is carried by class A acting across the board. 4 stars
7/05/06 bonnie mckeithren It's obvious,that though you rate many movies you know nothing...about life. 5 stars
4/25/06 Frankie Its not everything i imagined but it was iight 3 stars
4/03/06 JRE great acting, but average movie 4 stars
9/09/05 ralph a true movie expert 32 yrs old jamie foxx really won me over with this performance.if you dont like this film your weird. 4 stars
8/03/05 ALDO Overactors' showcase, Ray's mom was pitiful, script sucked, lighting sucked, Foxx was good 2 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins You have to be blind and deaf to enjoy this, retched. 1 stars
7/08/05 ELI AAAAAAARG!!! People didn't like it that much??? screw 'em! 5 stars
6/28/05 JFK good movie, too long i think. Jamie foxx best job 4 stars
5/22/05 Cham A big letdown after all the hype. Jamie Foxx is good though. 3 stars
5/19/05 wendy rogers I liked this movie ok...did not know much about Ray before seeing it 4 stars
5/07/05 edsandiego2 I love the movie. Just listening to the music is well worth it. 4 stars
5/06/05 Michelle Lofton inspirational! 4 stars
5/06/05 Mind Junkie Awesome 5 stars
5/04/05 Kyle Kapetanakis Only watch it to see a great performance from Jamie Foxx, like Charlize Theron in Monster 4 stars
5/02/05 dwarzel Academy awards for doing impressions? 1 stars
4/25/05 OverTheRainbow one of the best in a long time- a must see! 5 stars
4/19/05 Maril Smith Excellent acting by all and very in-depth look at Ray Charles' life 5 stars
4/16/05 Carol Conway Great acting and soundtrack 4 stars
4/15/05 Jeff Gilliland Wow, I didn't know Ray was such a jerk. Good flick, but perhaps overated. 4 stars
4/12/05 Carolyn Rathburn Very well done, good movie. 5 stars
4/09/05 Dan AWESOME. 5 stars
4/09/05 Tanya Grays regina king was great 5 stars
3/26/05 Denise moving 4 stars
3/24/05 dana Gordon A rate of awesome for Jamie Foxx's performance alone 5 stars
3/19/05 Green Grenlim Jamie Foxx is the best thing about this movie !!! 4 stars
3/08/05 Taylor Fladgate Eric Childress, once again, nails a review...Jamie Foxx was incredible. 4 stars
3/07/05 Daveman Cracking performance from Foxx is done no justice by this altogether ordinary biopic. 3 stars
3/02/05 David Tsung jamie deserved the oscar 4 stars
2/24/05 Mary JD Wonderful... I cried... felt such emotions from Jamie Foxx's acting 5 stars
2/23/05 KR Best Picture? No. But Foxx better get that Oscar, damnit! 5 stars
2/22/05 George "The Duke" Feist Amazing Jamie Foxx...3 movies (on TV) up for awards 5 stars
2/19/05 Captain Craig Talent production from start to finish. 5 stars
2/19/05 april gupton good, but a little too long 4 stars
2/16/05 Miranda Lahr Great movie, Rest well ray 5 stars
2/14/05 Jeanine Price Loved Jamie Foxx 4 stars
2/12/05 Sylvia Belle Very interesting biographical information 4 stars
2/12/05 Aimee Shelton Jamie Foxx delivers an amazing performance! 4 stars
2/09/05 Lisa Jochelson I loved this movie. They left a ton out, but I guess they had to. 5 stars
2/09/05 Al Guy A great movie, especially for music lovers. 5 stars
2/07/05 Jim Interesting. Learned a lot of stuff, for instance, "Booger' has gotten bald. 4 stars
2/06/05 Cassandra Farrar AWESOME!!! 5 stars
2/04/05 Tanya Grays Excellent film, Jamie Foxx has proven himself in this movie to be a great actor. 5 stars
2/03/05 Kent B. Jamie Fox did an excellent job in this movie. 4 stars
2/02/05 Rodney Stephens REALLY ENJOYED IT 4 stars
2/01/05 Danita Berg Go get your Oscar, Jamie! I really thought this movie was well done, and Jaime suprised me 5 stars
2/01/05 Lynda Eby Was interesting 4 stars
2/01/05 Andrea Haresign Loved It!! 5 stars
2/01/05 Alison this movie has not gotten near the attention it deserves 5 stars
1/30/05 Gretchen Lowe very good, I was expecting a comedy though 3 stars
1/29/05 Richard Brandt Like many biopics, ends by trying to wrap things up rather than come to a conclusion 4 stars
1/21/05 Uncle Phucker Don't respect the director but he pulled off a pretty damn good movie. Acting is great! 5 stars
12/28/04 efrain Not spectacular, but really worth seeing. Foxx is awesome. 4 stars
12/01/04 malcolm that was 2.5 hours? never felt like it. Foxx's Ray a million times better than Smith's Ali! 4 stars
11/13/04 ownerofdajoint foxx is brilliant;BRILLIANT i tell you;this has best actor for foxx all over it! 5 stars
11/09/04 psycho black dwarf sweet sounds, well delivered dialogue, visually stimulating flashbacks 4 stars
11/08/04 Eric This is definitely the best film of the year! Jamie Foxx was incredible! 5 stars
11/07/04 Suzz great performances; good film making; a bit long 5 stars
11/06/04 Jonetta It was great 5 stars
11/04/04 Arlene mesmerizing performances, fantastic movie! 5 stars
11/04/04 John phenomenal performances - well done and very entertaining 5 stars
11/04/04 vagile Surprisingly good. 4 stars
11/03/04 Kris Jamie will get a nod but the academy wont give him his due...watch 4 stars
11/02/04 Jay It was great, JF should get a nod and the music was wonderful, I agree it was a long movie 5 stars
11/02/04 Shay Knowles I thought the movie was good, a bit long but it kept my interest. Jamie Foxx was excellen! 4 stars
11/02/04 Llorie I thought the movie was amazing and anyone who love music should go see it 5 stars
11/02/04 lulu jamie foxx rocks! 5 stars
11/02/04 Jack Paris Best bio flick that I have ever seen 5 stars
11/01/04 Paul E-motive! Wonderful performance by JF & cast. 5 stars
11/01/04 Naka Somebody should delete that previous comment. Jackass. 5 stars
10/31/04 ajay certainly worth a look. 4 stars
10/30/04 Kimberly Phenomenal 5 stars
10/29/04 Mix Master Mason Foxx rocks, but this is generic bio-pic stuff... like a VH1 behind the scenes kind of thing 4 stars
9/27/04 Dawn Danowski I loved it. The music was great, Jamie Foxx was great! 5 stars
9/15/04 MM Some problems, but Jamie Foxx is amazing 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  29-Oct-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 01-Feb-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Jan-2005




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