Ray (2004) – Taylor Hackford

An all-star cast brings the life of the legendary musician Ray Charles in Ray, the next recommendation from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book following my screening of The Sound of Music.

Jamie Foxx leads the cast as the titular Ray and is joined by Terrance Howard, Regina King, Larenz Tate, Warwick Davis, Clifton Powell, Harry Lennix, and Richard Schiff.

Beginning with his arrival in a small bar, the film follows the ups and downs of Ray Robinson as he tries to carve out a life for his music, and himself. The film follows conflict with his partner Gossie McGee (Howard), his friendship with Quincy Jones (Tate), his loves, his demons, and his music.

Foxx’s performance is amazing, and he consequently scored that year’s Oscar for Best Actor. The film also took home Best Sound Mix, and the film does sound beautiful.

Featuring some great music, and paired with Foxx’s fantastic turn, Ray is a brilliant example of biographical storytelling that lets the viewer into the world of Ray Charles. The cast is strong, pacing and beats work and oh, that music.

ray

I, of course, knew some of Charles’ music, but I didn’t know his influences, I definitely didn’t know the things that went on in his life, the things that happened, the affairs, the haunting memories that stayed with him, the infidelities.

All of it is handled beautifully and Hackford turns in what may be the best directorial work of his career. It’s a stunning film, the music, the feel, the character beats, Foxx. Hackford, who also helped write the script, keeps the film on pace, and the craft on hand in this film makes for a great cinematic experience.

The revelations of the things that went on his life, the things he put his wife, Della Bea (Kerry Washington) through, and the creation of his music make for a great movie, and I really enjoyed the way the film was put together.

The accolades the film received re all well-earned, and I actually feel bad that I didn’t dive into this film when it was first released, but coming to it now, makes me appreciate the work that has gone into it.

And I’ve mentioned it a number of times already, but Foxx’s turn as Ray is nothing short of amazing. He brings Ray Charles to life with his mannerisms, his inflections, his movements, it’s all there, Foxx embodies Charles perfectly.

A fantastic actor, fantastic music, and a fantastic film.

movie_ray-2004

 

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