We're looking for contributors

RAY Review - Jamie Foxx Taylor Hackford

RAY (2004)

Director: Taylor Hackford

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Regina King, Clifton Powell, Harry Lennix, Bokeem Woodbine, Sharon Warren, Larenz Tate, Terrence Howard

Screenplay: James L. White; from an original story by White and Taylor Hackford

Jamie Foxx, Ray Charles, Ray
Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, Ray

Ray by Taylor Hackford

Taylor Hackford's prosaic biopic Ray offers no more than a superficial look at the life and career of legendary singer and composer Ray Charles. I say "superficial" in that Ray may show Charles' stand against racism, in addition to his many women and drug abuse, but director-writer Hackford, co-screenwriter James L. White, and star Jamie Foxx ever so politely steer clear of Charles' psyche, obviously fearing his inner demons – if really let loose on screen – would have frightened, repelled, and/or angered potential patrons.

Thus, like Martin Scorsese's The Aviator that same year, Hackford and White make use of pop psychology to explain – or rather, justify – Charles' less-than-spotless life as an adult: he felt guilty for the death of his brother, who drowned in a wash basin when they were both little children. Just as importantly, like numerous other biopics, from With a Song in My Heart and I'll Cry Tomorrow to Coal Miner's Daughter and Walk the Line, Ray simply must give audiences a triumph-over-adversity grand finale. Else, this Hackford project acquired in 1987 would still be waiting for either funds and/or a distributor.

Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx, for his part, does a remarkable impersonation of Ray Charles, perfectly mimicking everything from the blind singer's peculiar speech to his unusual walk. Yet, Foxx's performance fails to register as a work of real depth; his Ray Charles-like mannerisms and speech patterns come across as little more than the result of good physical control and lots of rehearsals. Not for a second while watching Jamie Foxx mimicking Ray Charles did I forget I was watching an actor mimicking Ray Charles.

In my view, Ray's acting honors should have gone to Regina King as Raelettes member Margie Hendricks and one of Charles' on-screen women. Whenever she's on screen, King provides the little genuine drama there is in the otherwise by-the-book proceedings.

Ultimately, Ray is nothing more than your standard show-biz biopic, the likes of which Hollywood has been churning out since time immemorial. If that type of narrative and Ray Charles' music are enough for you, then you probably shouldn't miss it.

Considering the film's respectable success with the public and its warm reception among mainstream US critics, Ray's modest goals were clearly more than enough for a large segment of the moviegoing public – and that's understandable. No complex, unvarnished look into the life of an artist, especially one who happens to be a cultural icon, would have been that welcome.

2 Academy Award Wins

Best Actor: Jamie Foxx

Best Sound Mixing: Scott Millan, Greg Orloff, Bob Beemer, Steve Cantamessa

4 Academy Award Nominations

Best Picture: Taylor Hackford, Stuart Benjamin, Howard Baldwin

Best Direction: Taylor Hackford

Best Film Editing: Paul Hirsch

Best Costume Design: Sharen Davis

If you found RAY Review - Jamie Foxx Taylor Hackford an informative post, please recommend it to your friends. See share buttons above and on the left.
And consider following Alt Film Guide on Facebook and/or joining the FB group All About Movies.
RAY Review - Jamie Foxx Taylor Hackford © 2004-2015 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s). Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

Continue Reading: WHO IS HARRY KELLERMAN AND WHY IS HE SAYING THOSE TERRIBLE THINGS ABOUT ME? Review - Dustin Hoffman

Previous Post: INCEPTION Wins Two Motion Picture Sound Editors Awards


You can leave your comment about RAY Review - Jamie Foxx Taylor Hackford in the space below. Important: Different views and opinions are perfectly fine, but courtesy and respect are imperative. Abusive, bigoted, baseless (spreading misinformation), and/or inflammatory comments will be deleted, and such commenters may be banned.

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>




FROM THE ARCHIVES

15 Documentaries Vying for Oscar Nod
SUFFERING AND SMILING Dan Ollman
A HATFUL OF RAIN Review - Eva Marie Saint, Don Murray, Anthony Franciosa
Jon Stewart to Host, Gil Cates to Produce 2008 Oscar Telecast
Oscar 2008: Governors Ball Preview
Meet the Oscars, Chicago 2009
SITTING PRETTY Review: Clifton Webb Is 'Gay' Babysitter
Oscar 2010: Preferential Voting System for Best Picture Winner
Oscar 2009 Predictions: Best Documentary, Animated Film
Oscar 2010: The Academy's Writing Branch and Foreign-Language Films
THE BLIND SIDE, THE HURT LOCKER Producer Credits
George Clooney, T Bone Burnett, Sheldon Turner: Oscar Nominees Luncheon Photo
Meryl Streep and Cell Phone Photo: Governors Ball 2010
Jeff Bridges, Susan Bridges Photo: Governors Ball 2010
Christopher Nolan, Wally Pfister, Hans Zimmer Photo: Oscar Luncheon 2011
RIO, THE MUPPETS Songs Not to Be Performed: Oscar Ceremony 2012
Octavia Spencer Oscar 2012 Q&A
ANTIVIRAL Movie Review: Brandon Cronenberg 'Gutsy' Look at Celebrity Worship Extremism
BLUE JASMINE Review: Cate Blanchett Stars in Woody Allen Biting Social Commentary
Neil Patrick Harris: Oscar 2015 Host