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Oscar winning lip-synching,
This review is from: Ray (2 Disc Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
I've never been much of a Ray Charles fan (which makes me nekulturny, I guess), but I do know an Oscar-winning performance when I see one.
Jamie Foxx is Ray Charles Robinson, the truly great American musician and composer, and RAY depicts his professional career and personal trials from 1948, when he left Florida at age 18 on a bus for Seattle, to the late 60s when he kicked a heroin habit. The film is interspersed with numerous flashbacks to his boyhood in Georgia, where, at age 5, he was psychologically scarred by the tragic drowning of his younger brother in a washtub, and where, by age 7, glaucoma rendered him completely blind.
I would've been even more impressed with Foxx's role had he been the one singing the Ray Charles songs sprinkled throughout the film, much as Sissy Spacek sang Loretta Lynn's hits in the memorable COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER (1980). However, Jamie's lip-synch was seamless, and he certainly had Ray's mannerisms down. The viewer can be excused for forgetting that it wasn't actually Charles up there on the Big Screen, and Foxx deserved the Best Actor Oscar award he received.
There were at least two performances worthy of an Academy nod for Best Supporting Actress: Regina King as Margie Hendricks, Ray's on-the-road mistress that inspired the passion which fueled many of his musical compositions, and Sharron Warren as Aretha Robinson, Ray's mother. I wish we could have seen more of the latter. Aretha had fire.
In any story of someone transcending poverty to attain fame, usually an entertainer or athlete, there's usually the two-hanky bit where the star returns home to buy Mom a new house or some such. There's no indication in the film that Ray visited Aretha after he left Florida. This may be a puzzle unless the viewer is aware that Aretha died when Ray was 15, something RAY fails to note. Also, the film's conclusion infers that Charles lived happily ever after with his long-suffering wife, Della Bea (Kerry Washington). In fact, Ray and Della divorced in 1977. And my only other niggling objection was the genesis of the song "Hit the Road, Jack". As portrayed, it brought forth laughter from the audience; I think it was intended by the scriptwriters and director to be a powerfully dramatic sequence.
RAY was arguably 2004's Best Picture. It's certainly a must-see for any consumer of contemporary cinema, and an absolutely obligatory-see for any fan of Ray Charles.