Ray is a biography film released in 2004 and directed by Taylor Hackford. It’s a biopic of celebrated musician Ray Charles.
Hello, there! I’m dos Santos, and this is Ulven Reviews, with Movies and series from all over the world and all eras. Today let’s talk about Ray.
This video is part of the Oscars Badge Series. To know more, you can watch the video in which I introduce the series.
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The film tells the story of Ray Charles Robinson (played by Jamie Foxx) since the beginning of his career in the late 40s to 1979 when Georgia makes the song “Georgia On My Mind” the official state song.
We also have flashbacks of his childhood (played by C. J. Sanders) with his mother, Aretha Robinson (played by Sharon Warren), and younger brother, George (played by Terrone Bell), and how it shaped his later life.
The first thing I have to say before the review is that I was never a Ray Charles fan. I only know him and very few of his songs because he was too famous.
For example, as an NBA fan currently watching the playoffs, I noticed that when a player is ejected, the arena sound system plays “Hit the Road Jack” a song made famous by Ray Charles.
So, I have absolutely no bias towards or against him. I only read some things about him after watching, mainly to fact-check what was portrayed in the movie. That’s it, let’s begin.
The first time I watched this film was in school. I was around 15 or 16, I was paying attention, but somehow I managed to forget everything about the film regardless. That means I had to watch it again to be able to do this review properly.
Since each class was around 45 to 50 minutes, we had to watch it in four parts. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t bored back then, because this time, it seems the movie was going forever.
Most of the film is very serious and, although some humor is present, is very sparse. The movie deals with some harsh issues, so the severe tone is adequate. But I believe a break in the tone more often would do the movie a lot of good.
I was kinda bored and sometimes even confused. There were too many montages and the back and forth between the different phases of Ray’s life was too frantic for my taste.
The flashbacks make sense and always have a link that takes to them. The problem is with their frequency, making the movie feel too choppy and with slow development.
Talking about slow development, Ray has an awful character arc. He starts naive, then turns into a piece of shit for the whole movie until nearly the end. Important to say that I’m talking about the character in the film, not the actual artist.
This takes us to another point. The movie has too many artistic liberties, some make the story worse than the real one. For example, in the film, Ray insists on a pregnant mistress to do an abortion, which never happened in real life.
Regardless of the opinion one might have about abortion, I think everyone agrees that a man almost forcing a woman into it is fucked up. So that didn’t help us feel sympathy towards the character at all.
Basically, every other character is equally awful. Everyone cheats on friends and partners in every way possible and treats people, especially women, like shit. The only one I liked was Aretha.
The acting, on the other hand, is flawless. Jamie Foxx was nominated twice this year, one for supporting actor (for the movie Collateral) and another for the leading role in Ray, which he won. He did really well, with all those mannerisms Ray Charles had.
Other really remarkable performances came from Regina King, Clifton Powell, and Bokeem Woodbine. Although everyone was solid, these three were my favorites. An honorable mention to Larenz Tate (who played Quincy Jones), he’s really excellent but had little screen time.
Another aspect I found outstanding was the visuals. The costumes and environment were excellent and very compatible with the era in which the film was set. The cinematography, in general, was compelling. However, my favorite moments were the flashbacks of Ray’s childhood.
The score must be awesome for fans of this kind of music, which I’m not. Regarding Blues, I only like Robert Johnson. I’m very ignorant about anything else. Gospel, R&B, and Country are way off of my taste.
There’s no way around it, the score had to be this way. There’s no way Taylor Hackford would think “shit, we can’t use Ray’s songs here because that Ulven Review’s guy doesn’t like it so much. Put some Grand Belial’s Key for him.”.
It’s Ray’s story, and it’s Ray’s songs, perfect match.
Ray is a nice enough movie, a decent tribute for a legendary musician released in the year of his death. For now, it’s my least favorite in the series, yet still on a positive note. I’ll give Ray 6 Moons.
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