Jonathan Ogilvy likes movies so much he saw this one twice. The truth is he loves Ray Charles and that didn't make him hate this movie either.

RaySeeing Ray again yesterday swayed my decision. It's a great movie. I wasn't quite sure at first. Its staging has all the stiffness of a blind man moving about without a cane. Consequently, it feels at times like a made-for-TV movie. Don't wait for it to hit the small screen, though, if you have the chance to go to a showing at a big fancy cinema, because you'll want to enjoy the sound production in full surround.

Hearing Ray's unmistakable singing voice come out of the mouth of Jamie Foxx (Ali, Collateral) may trip you up for about two seconds but no more before you're righted by Ray's music and its sureness -- a sureness to which I dare say the vision of producer director Taylor Hackford will hold up. This is a story he was determined to tell even before he secured the rights in 1994 and started making the picture in 1996.

This is a story told with the full cooperation of Ray Charles and family in spite of much unflattering subject matter, and in spite of almost no cooperation from any major movie studios. It tries to do quite a lot and, doggonnit, it succeeds. Mr. Foxx works wonders, makes you forget it's not Ray when he's talking, and makes you forget it's not him when he singing. All of this is achieved through a truthfulness that can be symbolized by the fact that, while Ray's recordings are coming through, Jamie's hands are really playing those keys.

This is a true story that starts out with a witty deception on the part of young Ray Charles Robinson. He cons a bus driver and so begins a long journey. In very short order the story touches on every difficult topic the next two hours will cover -- racial segregation, drug abuse, sex addiction, cutthroat business negotiation, and Country music ("I like it because of the stories.")

Above all, this is the story of the man who invented Soul music, Ray Charles, who left this world in 2004, and it's coming to cinemas across this world in 2005, so you just go find your way out and see it. You'll also see the light passing through the beautiful shots by Polish cinematographer Pawel Edelman (The Pianist, Oliver Twist).

© Jonathan Ogilvy 2005 - 2015
[Published 4 January 2005]
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About the author

Jonathan is our Travel editor. His favorite destinations are Coney Island, Cap d'Antibes, and Tsim Sha Tsui. His favorite rides (aside from current collection) are Cheguar 350 conversion, Star boat, Boeing 747, A Train, and (Dance) Any Way You Wanta by Harvey Fuqua. Current collection: Lambretta 150 Special, Vespa Rally 200, Bajaj Chetak

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Marcel Villeneuvefeb 4 2005 9:15AM
A great movie, the opening bars of What I Say always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
Nice review as well, you have to admire someone who puts "dogonnit" in an article :-)
Jean-Paul Séculairejan 25 2005 9:07AM
Yes, very good film. Highly recommended.
jo wallacejan 14 2005 11:55AM
Go see.........a wonderful film with a totally believable lead and an amazing cast of support actors. You will pinch yourself at times - Jamie Foxx is SO Ray Charles it's scarey. Not a duff moment in the production. Jo Wallace
Brian Poustjan 6 2005 10:28PM
Yes, it IS a great movie and I have to admit at getting a little choked up at times. And beyond Ray, it's worth it to see the treatment of supporting cast including The Raeletts, Ahmet Ertegun, Jerry Wexler (and the difference between Atlantic and ABC Records), etc. Very well done. I'll buy that DVD when it's out.
Nick Rossijan 4 2005 8:10PM
Amen to that.
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