What's In A Name
I have finally seen more than one Oscar Best Film contender. Ray is the biopic film of the life of Ray Charles Robinson, or simply Ray Charles. It focuses on the first twenty years of his career from the early 1940s till the early 1960s. The story is interlaced with flashbacks to Ray's childhood exploring his humble upbringing and dealing with going blind and the death of his little brother.
Biographical films don't really appeal to me, and I didn't have high expectations for Ray. I was, however looking forward to hearing the music. If nothing else, I knew the music was going to keep me entertained. Featuring original and new recording by Ray Charles himself, there was no doubt about the quality. I was tapping and jiving along for most of the film.
I know little about most iconic entertainers personal history, and assume that to be as talented as they are, their life has to be riddled with painful events. So I was lead into the world of the mid-20th century music industry. I am glad that I wasn't a would-be musician back then.
Taking up the role of Ray must have been daunting for Jaime Foxx. Such a memorable physicality would be impossible to mimic without veering into slighty parody, but Foxx is completely convincing. The progression of the effects of the drugs on his performance was subtle and really added to the quality of his performance. I would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two if shown two performances.
The only negative criticisms I have is that the whole illusion that Jaime Foxx was Ray Charles was totally destroyed when he appears in a flash-back as his adult self and opens his eyes. It was like pulling the emergency brake on a train. Everything came crashing forward to a hault. The other is that there was no aging of the cast. Twenty years is a long time, and there is no one who doesn't change physically over that much time. I was a little disappointed that the women in his life began to show signs of age, and he didn't.
I honestly don't think this is a Best Picture Oscar nomination worthy film. I was surprised how well Foxx did, and believe he deserves a nod for his work, but the overall film wasn't that impactive. It is a good tribute to Charles' life and career and is a must see for fans of his music, but for me it was a pleasant experience that I feel could have been better somehow.
Ray Charles' death certainly made Ray a bittersweet tale, and no doubt helped it's promotion and eventual box office success. I just hope that it's not going to push it into the lead for the Oscars. We'll find out soon enough.