Release Year: 2004
Director: Taylor Hackford
Writers: James L. White (screenplay & story), Taylor Hackford (story)
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Regina King, Clifton Powell, Harry Lennix, Bokeem Woodbine, Aunjanue Ellis, Sharon Warren, C.J. Sanders, Curtis Armstrong, Richard Schiff, Larenz Tate, Terrence Howard, David Krumholz, Wendell Pierce, Chris Thomas King
Rating: Won 2 Oscars: Best Actor (Jamie Foxx), Best Sound Mixing. Nominated for 4 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Costume Design. Won 1 Golden Globe: Best Actor – Comedy or Musical (Jamie Foxx). Nominated for 1 Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.
The story of the life of the legendary musician Ray Charles from his humble beginnings in the South where he lost his sight at the age of seven to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.
Ray Charles was one of the most influential rythm and blues musicians in the United States in the last century, and with a poverty-stricken childhood in Florida, plenty of affairs and substance abuse, his life’s story makes for engaging drama. If the story were fictional, it would be hard to believe: the son of a single mother and with no prospects, traumatized by the death of his younger brother, and blind, we are somehow meant to believe this man was a musical genius who would go on to change the sound popular music? Well, that is exactly what happened. A little over 2 and a half hours long, the film finds a red thread in Charles’s blindness and his younger brothers death; while such an event would obviously stay with you all your life, the flashbacks sometimes seem a bit forced. The film only shows the first half of Charles’s life, according to director Taylor Hackford (Dolores Claiborne, 1995) because there has been no conflict, only success in the second half. It takes some liberties with the facts, skipping Charles’s first wife and keeping his many affairs to a minimum without glossng over his promiscious side. The music is great (of course) and the soundtrack keeps the highlights coming. But it all rests of the central performance and Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained, 2012) is absolutely great, given a performance with an uncanny resemblance to the man himself. Also worthy of mention is Kerry Washington (Save the Last Dance, 2001) as Charles’s struggling wife. A good solid biopic with a great central performance and a kick-ass soundtrack. Highly recommended to music lovers.
Despite Jamie Foxx’s uncanny skills at impersonations, all the singing in the film is Ray Charles’s voice. However, all the piano scenes were played by Jamie Foxx.
Picture Copyright: UIP