Fact is that the Academy loves this type of film. Another version (this time based on a true story) of the striving against all odds to become a success theme coupled with Jamie Foxx’s terrific performance as the legendary Ray Charles .
The film is spotted with flashbacks to Ray’s younger days, growing up in northern Florida with his mama, played by newcomer Sharon Warren in a performance perhaps even more worthy of the “O” word than that of Foxx’s. It is in these flashbacks that we see Ray develop as a person and acquire the will of his mama to demand better for himself and never let anyone take advantage of him.
In typical Hollywood style, the film is centered on a few aspects of Charles’ life that, I admit, are central to his life’s story, but when focused on, can only be played out in a tacky fashion that is all too common with this genre of film. I’m talking of, in particular, Charles’ heroin addiction and his success that is left to taste bittersweet because of his personal relationships that suffer as a consequence. The bad taste of the Detox sequence and the timing of some of the flashbacks were also hard to overlook.
But overall, Ray Charles’ story is truly inspirational and uplifting. If you’re into the biographical or specifically the music-legend-biographies, this is the stuff for you. There is no doubt that Ray was successful and that this film will have done well in serving its purpose as a vehicle through which to tell the extraordinary story of one truly visionary human being.
- Introduction by director Taylor Hackford
- Deleted scenes with commentary by Hackford
- Extended musical scenes
- Feature commentary by Hackford
- “Stepping Into the Part”
- “Ray Remembered”
- “The Women of Ray”
- “The Filmmakers Journey”
- “Ray: An American Story”
- “A Look Inside Ray.”