Customer Review

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5.0 out of 5 stars Ray Charles' Complex Life Matched by Superb Jamie Foxx, 9 Jan 2006
This review is from: Ray (2 Disc Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
I like "Ray." The music is strong, using Ray Charles' own tracks for both background and performance shots. The storyline is complex, flashing back to Charles' youth as he reflected on the loss of his eyesight and the death of his brother.

From his days as a child in a poor rural community, through his early days as an unknown musician struggling to get a fair deal, to his mid-career with management problems, affairs, hits, and drugs, and then, finally, as a one of our national heroes, we see Ray Charles in full color.

We learn how he manipulated women, cheated on his wife, became addicted to heroin, found his sound, got his name, and learned to work aggressively as his own musician. He deals with racism at first by avoiding it, and then quickly, takes a harsh stand, shaming the bigots and segregationists. Now, it a state where he was once banned from playing, his work, "Georgia on My Mind" is now the state song.

Biopics of celebrities are difficult to describe because of the chronology required to produce the movies. People don't live out plots written by screenwriters, but lives that have events that do not always make sense. Ray Charles' life didn't always make sense, but he lived it.

We have two views of Ray Charles. One is as a fighter, working hard against adversity to become the musician we now know. The other is as a womanizing addict who used his charm, position and trust of his wife to diminish all that was good about him. He eventually beats the drugs, holds onto his marriage, but these failures brought down my respect of him.

Jamie Foxx never impressed me before this. I found his comedy more off-color than I prefer, and expected that his version of Ray Charles would be mediocre. I heard the hype that his performance was Oscar-worthy, and watched the movie with the eyes of a skeptic. Now, I am impressed.

Jamie Foxx has a new fan. I hope he gets roles that allow him to shine like he does in "Ray."

The DVD for "Ray" adds to the movie. Normally, a DVD brings little extra that is interesting, but watching Jamie Foxx and Ray Charles interact was touching, as was hearing Foxx describe his experience in learning the role. We learn Foxx not only can play piano, but is trained at a high level. Those are his hands on the keys, and not movie magic. He respected Charles and the difficulty of playing an icon, and earned Charles' respect in the process.

Anthony Trendl
editor, HungarianBookstore.com
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