2004 Running time: 152 Certificate: 15 Rating: 4

Synopsis

Jamie Foxx gives an Oscar-winning, career-defining performance as the blind singer who came from a dirt poor background to become the "innovator of soul". From humble beginnings in the racially segregated American south to worldwide superstardom as one of the most important and influential entertainers of our time, this is the remarkable story of Ray Charles.

Director

  • Taylor Hackford

Cast

  • Jamie Foxx

  • Kerry Washington

  • Regina King

  • Aunjanue Ellis

  • Clifton Powell

Review

Taylor Hackford's eagerly anticipated biopic of the legendary musician's life has taken the dedicated director 16 years to bring to the screen but boy, is it worth the wait!

Born in a poor town in Georgia, Ray started going blind from glaucoma at the age of five 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, he found his calling and his gift behind a piano keyboard.

As he puts it in his autobiography: "I was born with music inside me. That's the only explanation I know of... Music was one of my parts... like my blood."

Touring across the Southern musical circuit, the soulful pianist and singer built up his reputation before exploding onto the worldwide scene when he pioneered the innovative and somewhat controversial mixture of gospel music with Rhythm & Blues.

It's during the overwhelming recreations of Ray's performances that Hackford and Jamie Foxx, eerily convincing in the title role, are at their exemplary best. They manage to capture every bit of the pure emotion and feeling poured into his every song.

Foxx proves himself as a skilled leading man and proved his worth with an Oscar win for his exhausting devotion to bringing Ray's sound and movement back to life.

Like any other story that incorporates the American Dream, Ray Charles' has the usual paradoxes - rags to riches. Triumph overcoming tragedy. Light transcending darkness - but Hackford doesn't refrain from also dealing with his escalating heroin addiction and lust for extra-marital affairs.

The result is a real and truly absorbing reflection of Charles' genius and the life he overcame to find it.

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