THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE STORY OF RAY CHARLES. A MAN WHO FOUGHT HARDER AND WENT FARTHER THAN ANYONE THOUGHT POSSIBLE.
Director Taylor Hackford tried to get this project off the ground for several years, a biopic on the life of soul giant Ray Charles. It is a fairly conventional film, but the technical qualities and Jamie Foxx’s outstanding performance (talk about a breakthrough; he completely disappears into the role) are so good that they survive other less than satisfying ingredients. The movie comes alive particularly whenever Foxx/Charles performs in concert; there’s such vitality in the music and the way the filmmakers use it in their work. One comes away feeling educated abut the man’s life and the filmmakers aren’t afraid to address Charles’s darker sides.
2004-U.S. 153 min. Color. Produced by Taylor Hackford, Howard Baldwin, Karen Elise Baldwin, Stuart Benjamin. Directed by Taylor Hackford. Screenplay: James L. White. Cast: Jamie Foxx (Ray Charles), Kerry Washington (Della Bea Robinson), Regina King (Margie Hendricks), Clifton Powell, Aunjanue Ellis, Harry Lennix.
Trivia: Foxx wore eye prosthetics that really made him blind during the shoot.
Oscars: Best Actor (Foxx), Sound Mixing. BAFTA: Best Actor (Foxx), Sound. Golden Globe: Best Actor (Foxx).
Last word: “If you look at the change in American culture that I think he contributed to, it was immense. And in his own way saying that he understood it and that was the highpoint of his life. You know, being born where he was born, the kind of situation that his race and he was in, that he took a stand and banned for ever playing ‘Georgia’ again and then they brought him back and made him the favorite son of the state and made the song that he made famous the state song. That, to him, was the culmination of his journey, even though he went on for another 30 years. So from ’35 to ’65 is the focus of the film. To me, that’s the best part of the story, it’s where there’s struggle, where there’s conflict, where you don’t know the outcome. Afterwards, you do know the outcome. It’s all gravy.” (Hackford, IGN)