The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.
The story of Ray Charles (played by Jamie Foxx), music legend. Told in his adult life with flashbacks to his youth we see his humble origins in Florida, his turbulent childhood, which included losing his brother and then his sight, his rise as pianist in a touring band, him writing his own songs and running his own band, and then stardom. Also includes his addiction to drugs and its affect on his working life and family life.Written by
... and the crafters of this film got that. Ray Charles was a flawed human being. Actually the words "flawed" and "human" are redundant, so don't think I'm judging him. But his life was very complex. He had a drug problem. He had twelve children by ten women over a period of 35 years. He had repressed guilt over the accidental death of his baby brother. And he was one of the great musical geniuses of the 20th century. He started out crafting and performing great tunes in the early 50s before rock and roll arrived and managed to be relevant into the 1970s. When the likes of Bloodrock and DOA edged him out of the pop charts. No, seriously. But history has proven that his music has lasting appeal.
So this film stars Jamie Fox in the title role and manages to blend all aspects of the artist's life into a cohesive whole - his impoverished childhood, his life as a musician and artist, his private life at home, and his private life on the road. And Ray's delusional belief that he can keep all these different parts of his life from having a head on collision. It runs back and forth between all of these phases of Ray Charles' life and kept me very engaged. And the music will give you a soul attack.
Jamie Foxx disappears into the role of Charles and reflects the complexity of the man while still leaving him enough of an enigma to keep you intrigued. Kerry Washington plays Bea, the long suffering wife of Charles. When it comes to Charles' life on the road she doesn't know and she doesn't want to know. And yet she knows. Margie and Mary Ann are the two women who represent all of the other women in Charles' life. If you had the actual number of women involved with Charles in this bio pic, the traffic direction would become so complex that you wouldn't see the forest for the trees.
Special kudos to Curtis Armstrong as Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic record producer and friend of Ray. If not for this film I would only remember him from the 80s TV show Moonlighting where he was the (at least initially) unwilling object of oddball Agnes Depesto's affection.
This film has great acting, obviously a great soundtrack, is a shining example of expert editing, and has a screenplay that I just don't get bored of even though the story of Ray is pretty well known. Great for repeat viewing. Highly recommended.
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