Georgia on My Mind
"Ray" is the story of legendary soul singer Ray Charles (Jamie Foxx - Collateral), famed for songs such as "Georgia". Born into poor circumstances, Ray lost his sight at the age of 7 after the death of his brother. With the help of his mother he learnt how to survive in the world, and instilled into him the determination that would guide him through his life. As time moves on, Ray uses all his skills and determination to over come both racism and prejudices against the blind. He finally achieves all of this by becoming a famous musician and singer. But as he grew more and more famous, so did his vices, which nearly stripped him of everything he worked to achieve.
Prior to watching "Ray", I had only really ever seen pictures of Ray Charles as an older man, such as his appearance in "The Blues Brothers". With this in mind, I did a bit of research on what Ray Charles was like in his younger days. Thankfully I did, because I was amazed at not only the similarity in looks between Ray Charles and Jamie Foxx but the way Foxx took on the whole persona of Charles. Prior to this I had only seen Foxx in "Any Given Sunday" and was not overly impressed with him. After watching "Ray" I have a totally different opinion, you can definitely see how Foxx related to the character of Ray. I honestly can't imagine how hard it would have been for him to play the part of a blind man, especially one of such high profile. An interesting fact is the Foxx actually sang some of the songs in the movie as well as actually playing the piano in the scenes.
Although Ray is the main character in this film, the parts played by other actors were very significant in making this whole movie very watch able. Without outstanding performances in the parts of Della Bea Robinson (Kerry Washington), Aretha Robinson (Sharon Warren), to name just 2, this film would not make you want to sympathise with all the main characters.
Of course, the music is a huge part of this film, and as you would expect it is mainly Ray Charles numbers, but along with these you get plenty of soul music from other artists of the time. There could be a temptation to over use music in this film, but it has been done with the viewpoint of assisting the story.
Ray was directed by Taylor Hackford, I'll be honest in the fact that I have never really watched any of his previous works such as Proof of Live, The Devil's Advocate. In Ray he has proved that he is very good at getting the most out of every scene. He never seems to over dwell on a scene which I find very boring, and his choice of camera angles, lighting really help encapsulate the mood of the period. Also, Hackford could easily dwelled on the racial prejudice part of Ray's life, but he kept it true by making his struggle to conquer the blindness, personal demon and the goal of being a successful musician the focus of the story.
For me, "Ray" really opened my eyes to how important Ray Charles was to the creation of music across the world. He pushed the barriers to allow many other musicians to come through on the back of what he is what doing. The film in itself is very well made and is very enjoyable to watch. There are great performances from the cast and brilliant cinematography and direction. I would not necessarily recommend you buy this film, as once you have watched it once, you would have got the whole picture. The only reason I go back and watch this film, is because I enjoy the music and find the story very inspirational. I would recommend that everyone should either rent or borrow a copy as it is definitely worth watching.