Ray (2004)

(In theaters, January 2005) In a few years, they’ll put the poster of this film on the “vanity project” Wikipedia entry. That it happens to be a good film doesn’t take anything away from the fact that Jamie Foxx does wonder with a role written for the Academy’s consideration. Oh yes, Ray Charles is a genius, and Foxx is perfect playing him. Director Taylor Hackford makes a few unusual choices early on (eschewing the bulk of the usual “childhood” material at the onset, but -alas- putting it everywhere in the film), but the film really gets cracking during the moments where Charles’ music and life are seamlessly edited together. Very good, very interesting, very revealing. Unfortunately -and this isn’t a criticism of the “real” Ray Charles as much as it’s a comment on the way all celebrities’ biography seem to run- the good old guy-overcomes-handicap, guy-becomes-famous, guy-gets-addicted, guy-redeems-himself plot gets tiresome regardless of whether is presented with snappy editing or whether it’s a hour-long TV biography. Maybe the film couldn’t avoid that, but it probably could have meshed the themes better (there’s a point where the script seems to consciously put, say, an infidelity scene here, a drug scene there, a pop-music scene here… repeat as required) and it certainly could have avoided the pat “come to grip with your childhood trauma and everything will be fine” ending. Meh. If nothing else, downloads of Charles MP3 will spike after this film.

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