Wednesday 26th January 2022

Ray (15)
Directed by: Taylor Hackford
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz
Jamie Foxx plays a blinder as Ray Charles
Jamie Foxx plays a blinder as Ray Charles

Fourteen years after director Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman) secured the rights to Ray Charles' life story, and less than a year after the great man himself died, we are graced with a biopic of one of the greatest musicians who ever lived.

The film begins in 1948, when Ray Charles is starting out as a musician on the road and segregation is still prominent in America. It follows Ray's rise to fame, and his corresponding descent into drug addiction, all the while concentrating on his personal life, relationships and, of course, his music.

Jamie Foxx, whom I have admired for a few years now, takes on the biggest challenge of his career by playing Ray Charles Robinson, and he does a truly marvellous job. Apparently the prosthetics he wore on his eyes during filming actually made him blind for up to 14 hours a day, and together with spending time with the real Ray Charles and playing the piano himself on screen has created an incredibly convincing performance that is a pleasure to watch.

It comes as know surprise to me that, as I write this, it has just been announced that Jamie Foxx has been nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Ray, and I think he stands an excellent chance of winning.

It probably goes without saying that the soundtrack to this film is absolutely outstanding, featuring countless Ray Charles songs and recordings that will make you tingle all over at times. However, the real question is "Is this film more than just a strong central performance and a great soundtrack?"

Well, the answer is a tentative "yes". The direction is subtle and unobtrusive, bordering on the pedestrian, and the ending to the film left me a little unfulfilled as it skips the last forty years of Ray's life with an uninspired written précis.
These points aside, though, Ray is still a very good film and certainly an enjoyable piece that, in many ways, I would rather watch than Martin Scorsese's recent biopic, The Aviator. A must see for music-lovers and undoubtedly near the top of the list of current releases.

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Length: 152 minutes
Certificate: 15
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 21st January 2005

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