The movie Ray is American reality-based film that recounts the life and times of the renowned rhythm and blues star Ray Charles. The timeline of the musical biographical movie covers 30 years, from the musician's childhood to his final days on stage. In the film, Charles witnesses his brother drowning in a bath tab before he loses his sight. His mother inspires him to become independent and find his way to survive. Hence, he discovers his music talent and begins touring the country to perform on stage. According to the movie, the artist was multi-talented as he could compose, write songs, sing and play the piano. The film also depicts the musician as the pioneer of incorporating rhythm and blues with other genres such as orchestra, jazz, country, gospel as well as rock and roll. Besides, the movie also depicts the negative experiences of the musician, how he begins to shoot heroin due to nervous breakdown and depression and how he overcomes it.
The film director Taylor Hackford wrote and produced it independently in 2004. The Bristol Bay Company financed the entire work. Hackford worked on the production together with actor Jamie Foxx, who played the title role.
My overall impression of the movie is that Ray Charles had no march when it comes to singing. Unlike many musical films where the actor performing the role of the musician sings, in this movie Foxx only represents the physical presence of Charles. The director preferred to have Charles do all the soundtracks in the film himself. That also means the production crew had access to the artist's recordings.
Secondly, the movie correctly gives the impression that Ray Charles had an outgoing and charming personality despite his blindness. Foxx accurately portrays the character of the musician, who in real life had a dominant physical and spiritual presence. Ray would never hesitate to do his acts on stage because of his physical disability. He was known for his eccentric mannerisms, which he mostly displayed at the keyboard. Foxx's interpretation of Ray's body language was so correct that the audience readily accepted him as Ray.
Moreover, the movie does not cover everything in the life of the musician. Ray Charles had a story so rich that could not be fit into a two and a half hours film. Therefore, the author of the film focuses on his youthful days, from his birth to the peak of his music career at 30. It was also around this time that Ray's life turned around after he defeated heroin.
The last impression of the movie is that although Charles Ray was blind, he was always in charge of his work. His drive to control his albums led him to abandon Atlantic Records who were his first supporters to sign a deal with ABC Paramount. He is portrayed to have tactfully overcome the hurdles of the exploitative music execs of the 20th Century.
I learned a few things from the movie that I didn't already know. One of them is that Ray Charles used heroin because of depression and a nervous breakdown he suffered following the death of his mother. Although the musician is known to have suffered a nervous breakdown, its cause is never apparent. Finally, I have learned that Ray Charles was involved in the production of the film right from the point of scripting.
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