Reviewed by: Rosemarie Ute Hoffman
|Featuring||Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Kerry Washington, Richard Schiff, Aunjanue Ellis|
|Producer||Taylor Hackford, Stuart Benjamin, Howard Baldwin, Karen Baldwin|
“The extraordinary life story of Ray Charles. A man who fought harder and went farther than anyone thought possible.”
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “This is the musical biographical drama of American legend Ray Charles. Born in a poor town in Georgia, Ray Charles went blind at the age of seven shortly after witnessing his younger brother’s accidental death. Inspired by a fiercely independent mother who insisted he make his own way in the world, Charles found his calling and his gift behind a piano keyboard. Touring across the Southern musical circuit, the soulful singer gained a reputation and then exploded with worldwide fame when he pioneered incorporating gospel, country, jazz and orchestral influences into his inimitable style. As he revolutionized the way people appreciated music, he simultaneously fought segregation in the very clubs that launched him and championed artists’ rights within the corporate music business. “Ray” provides an portrait of Charles’ musical genius as he overcomes drug addiction while transforming into one of this country’s most beloved performers.”
Ray is a compelling biographical drama of Ray Charles Robinson that will have you mesmerized due to Jaime Foxx’s realistic representation. Foxx’s classical training on the piano lend to his brilliant performance.
As a young boy at age seven, Ray Charles becomes blind, but more alarming, he turns into a cripple as an adult from the wiles of the world—sex and drugs. As his life progresses, Ray becomes painstakingly more immobilized with his addictions. However, recovery and restoration are attained, but only when he reaches the bottom—facing federal jail time. It is only then that he starts to push himself through physically, psychologically, and spiritually to find true peace.
Throughout the film, there are mysterious depictions of water and a dead body—a haunting of the premature death of Ray’s younger brother, George. Ray also has frequent flashbacks of his life on the farm with his mother. It is only after Ray’s recovery, as a drug addict, that he finally makes good on his promise to his mother.
As a blind black man in the 1950s, Ray eagerly sets out to share his passion of music with America. His quick-witted nature develops into good business strategy later on in his career. Still, his disability often made him feel like an outsider, even among his peers.
It was not long before Ray hooked up with a seedy manager and band members who saw him as nothing more then their “golden goose.” They were greedy, womanizers, and drug addicts, but Ray chose to live in their world. During this flesh-pleasing season of his life, there are many disturbing scenes of excessive drug use and conversations with sexual overtones. Not only does the movie show the use of heroine and its paraphernalia, it also illustrates the smoking of marijuana.
One of the few uplifting events is when Ray is alone “having church” while reading the Bible in braille with Gospel music playing in the background. It is then that a representative (Curtis Armstrong) from Atlantic Records pays him a visit to make a deal. Signing with Atlantic Records proves to be a success. It is a nurturing environment where Ray finds his own unique style and expresses it—blending Gospel with Rhythm and Blues. Though some dubbed him an innovator, there were many who opposed his misuse of God’s music for sex as sacrilegious. Although, this would not be the only time Ray would experience opposition.
The state of Georgia banned Ray Charles from performing there for life because he refused to entertain to a segregated audience. It is here that Ray finds his inner voice speaking out loudly and boldly. The ban was reversed in 1979 and done with a public apology, and with a proclamation that the state song would be Georgia on My Mind.
A hard lesson was learned early on when a young Ray falls in his family’s one room shack crying for help, while only a few steps away stood his silenced mother. At that instant, he finds an inner strength to rise, and turns up the dials on his remaining senses. This laid the foundation and gave Ray the strength to carry himself through to live successfully with his blindness. And, with diligence and persistence, his mother instills in him that the world would not be so forgiving, and that he would have to do things for himself regardless.
Ray was in love with his wife (Kerry Washington), but with the antics of the flesh coupled with negative influences quickly changed a dedicated man into a man who lived two lives. While he financially takes care of his family and occasionally visits the home front, most of his time is on the road touring and committing adultery with various women. One of the women in the band, Marjorie (Regina King) becomes pregnant with his son. She later dies from a drug overdose, which had a profound effect on him.
Ray Charles Robinson was born with a gift to reach beyond his small town borders, and as he set out to fulfill his destiny he discovered false securities. Nevertheless, he found his way back to where he had begun, with a promise in his heart and love to carry him through it all.
God’s Word reminds us also of His promise in our hearts, and love to carry us through.
John 16:33—“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 17:13-16—“These things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
Violence: Minor Profanity: Moderate Sex/Nudity: Moderate