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</script></div>{/googleAds}Ray is the sometimes blunt, always entertaining depiction of the life of music legend Ray Charles. As a technically flawless piece of filmmaking, it falls a bit short. But as the product of a filmmaker's journey to paint a realistic portrait of the musical genius known as Ray Charles, the film hits a beautifully resonant note. Director Taylor Hackford, along with producing partner Stuart Benjamin, spent the last 15 years developing the poignant story with input from Ray Charles himself. In the end, they not only successfully celebrate Charles' place in our National history, but they also manage to provide us all with true inspiration, showing us that we can actually control our own destiny. Especially those of us who have never experienced true hardship.

We not only come away from Ray with a much greater appreciation for Charles' music, we also gain a more profound respect for Ray Charles, the man. Despite his devastating hardships and physical disabilities, Ray Charles was ultimately able to persevere. As if growing up during the depression isn't hard enough, try growing up without a mother. Or try being a black man in the Deep South during the '60s. Harder still, attempt to go through life without eyesight. After seeing Ray, I somehow feel less sorry for myself that my knees are a bit achy.

Film biographies, or biopics as they are known in the industry, are usually hit or miss. The success of a biopic ultimately rests on two aspects, the absence of either ultimately spelling doom. The first is the ability of the star to pull off the likeness of his namesake. Not only must the physical appearance be dead on, the mannerisms and speech patterns must be convincing, including any ticks or lisps. By now you've certainly been subjected to the hype and ballyhoo of the strength of Jamie Foxx's performance as Ray Charles. Folks, I'm here to tell you that it hasn't been hyped enough. His performance transcends to a higher level than that of most film biographies. Foxx surpasses the physical resemblances to Charles and turns in one of the most soulful, stirring, dead-on portraits in quite some time. There were several moments during the film that I actually thought I was watching Ray Charles himself. It's that good!

The second necessary ingredient for making a successful biopic is the ability of the filmmakers to make the audience care. If there is no emotional connection between the story and the viewers, then what's the point? 1992's The Babe with Jon Goodman as Babe Ruth is a perfect example of filmmakers missing an opportunity to make an emotional attachment between the audience and the story. Everyone likes Babe Ruth, but almost no one liked The Babe. Much like Babe Ruth, Ray Charles was not without his vices and indiscretions, including adultery and drug abuse. But in Ray, the filmmakers are able to make us see beyond Charles' despicable and repulsive traits and actually cheer for his redemption and success.

The film itself has enough flaws and imperfections to make you periodically remember you're watching a movie. Hackford tries to creatively mix flashbacks into the narrative to reveal the story, but ultimately these timeline changes are choppy and seem to disrupt the flow of the storyline. Ray's frightful childhood is slowly revealed throughout the film as Hackford connects many of Charles' adulthood dilemmas to problems he suffered as a child, such as seeing the drowning of his brother. We also learn through these flashbacks that he never walked with a cane or used a seeing-eye dog because his mother taught him that to use such devices would be seen as a dependency.

Despite its shortcomings and imperfections Ray will go down as a great film. Undoubtedly one of the best of 2004. Not only does the film introduce a younger generation to the genius of Ray Charles' music, conversely it introduces an older generation to the genius of Jamie Foxx's acting abilities.


DVD

DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish; French

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; director's commentary; trailer; 2 complete and un-cut musical performances; director's commentary; original version and extended version; deleted scenes; featurettes; previews; additional un-cut musical.

* Commentaries:
o 1. Taylor Hackford - Director
* Featurettes:
o Stepping Into the Part
o Ray Remembered
o A Look Inside Ray
* 2 Musical Performances
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Trailers:

Number of discs: 2

Packaging: Snap case with Slip Sleeve{pgomakase}

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